First Lady ‘Gets It’ on Stem-Cell Research and ‘Women’s Issues’

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Those hoping to exploit the nation’s mourning over the death of former President Ronald Reagan in order to promote so-called “women’s issues” and embryonic stem-cell use discovered this week that the Bush administration, including first lady Laura Bush, is presenting a united front on these matters.

President and Mrs. Bush are at Sea Island, Georgia, attending the G-8 conference of leaders from nations with the world’s largest economies. Several media representatives have asked Mrs. Bush questions about “women’s rights” and embryonic stem-cell use. On both issues, the first lady supports Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) positions: (1) The human rights of women should be encouraged and promoted, instead of supporting the “women’s rights” agenda of abortion, lesbianism and quotas; and (2) Embryonic stem-cell use has an important moral dimension, and the use of adult stem cells is much more advanced and far more promising both for use and for research.

Embryonic Stem-Cell Use and Research

NBC news reporter Norah O’Donnell asked Mrs. Bush to respond to Mrs. Reagan’s support for embryonic stem-cell research as a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Bush responded:

We’re all advocates for a cure for Alzheimer’s. I’ve worked for that for years because my dad also died of Alzheimer’s. And there are stem cells that are available for research. But also we need to balance the interest of science with moral and ethical issues that have to do with embryonic stem-cell use. There is also adult stem-cell research that could be done and the research is going on. We all hope that we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Bill Plante of CBS News asked the first lady to react to Mrs. Reagan’s “pushing to have the restrictions on stem-cell use removed, restrictions that the President put on three years ago.” Mrs. Bush responded:

Well, there are stem cells to do research on, and there is a you know, we have to be really careful between what we want to do for science and what we should do ethically. And the stem-cell issue is certainly one of those issues that we need to treat very carefully.

In response to the same question from Terry Moran of ABC News, Mrs. Bush said:

The research has actually opened up for stem cell with [President Bush’s] decision. There are stem-cell embryos ready that people can use for research. But it’s a very delicate line. We have to it’s something that has to be treated very carefully, because we’re balancing scientific interests with ethical issues. And there are stem cells that are available for research, and I think that’s good. There’s also the adult stem cell. There are other sorts of stem cells that people can use without those ethical issues of using embryos.

Women’s Rights

The first lady’s response to questions about “women’s rights” indicates a sophisticated understanding of the issue.

Radical feminists typically use the phrase made famous by now-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) at the United Nations’ Beijing Women’s Conference in the mid-1990s, when she said: “Women’s rights are human rights.” That mantra carries the special agenda of the radical feminists abortion, lesbianism and quotas. Mrs. Bush could have been speaking from CWA talking points as she responded that the “human rights of women” are vitally important, and that efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq emphasize providing opportunities for women especially to help them gain improved education, health and general well-being.

Further, Mrs. Bush talked about the importance of respecting other countries, instead of having the United States behave as a cultural imperialist. She said, “One of the reasons these women are coming to talk with us is because we want to work within the traditions of their society and the culture of their society, and we respect their religion and their culture.” Mrs. Bush added, “We are working to have equality within the traditions of each one of these countries.”

CWA and the Beverly LaHaye Institute are pleased to see the first lady’s full support of the President’s stances on these two important issues. “Women’s rights” and stem-cell use and research are top concerns for American women. Thus far, the President and his team (including the first lady) have steadfastly held firm to the positions that we hold as the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, CWA’s think tank, was a U.S. delegate to the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women. She has been active on women’s issues since the early 1990s.

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