All these news reports are making this out to be a huge divide between Bush and Frist. In reality their positions are very similar – the research is very important, not least because it is about preserving human life, but protecting innocent human life is paramount. They differ over where to draw the line and I tend to agree with Frist, but neither of them is proposing some sort of ghoulish embryo factory where eggs are fertilized in vitro just to harvest stem cells for research or otherwise.
On the other hand, the statement I quoted from the wingnut that you’re either pro-research or pro-life would apply to Bush every bit as much as to Frist. (Not to mention Orrin Hatch, who has been a proponent of research for some time.) If the radical Christian right wants to make opposition to science some sort of litmus test of political righteousness, they are going to alienate lots of allies who are very much pro-life. That won’t make us any less pro-life, but it will certainly make coordination and political action problematic.
As for my comments on federal funding of medical research in general, it was a side issue. In an ideal world, all research would be privately funded, but we don’t live in that worl. My point was that because government is so pervasive the truly private labs that might conduct this out of profit motive simply don’t exist. Even the big pharmaceutical companies aren’t totally private. If I were running a lab with millions of dollars in government grants supporting our projects and someone came to me wanting to use our “private investor” dollars to do stem cell research, I’d think long and hard first. After all, dollars are fungible and I’d have to weigh the potential loss of all federal dollars versus the potential profit.