Pope John Paul II urged President Bush during their first meeting to ban the creation of human embryos for stem cell research. The 81-year-old pontiff claimed America, which aspires to be a “free and virtuous society,” must “reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception to natural death.” Bush thanked the Pope, adding that Americans’ prosperity “must be matched with compassion and moral purpose.”
The New York Times reports that Bush, in response to the Pope’s statement, said “I frankly do not care what the political polls say. I do care about the opinions of the people, particularly someone as profound as the Holy Father.”
If Bush bans federal funding, he could then enrage millions whose family members suffer from diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which scientists believe could be treated through advances in stem cell research. Conservative Republicans, such as Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dr. Bill Frist (R-TN), came out in support of stem cell research in recent weeks, joining scientific, medical and patient advocacy organizations.