I am not in the least surprised by Senator Frist’s position on overturning the President’s policy on embryonic stem cell research. Four years ago he stated he favored federal funding for ESCR on condition that only leftover embryos from IVF treatments be used to derive the stem cell lines.

But Frist’s support for funding for ESCR was not supposed to be a stand-alone proposal. Rather, Frist envisioned the (then proposed) federal funding of ESCR as one part of an overarching federal policy that the good senator humbly labeled the “Frist Principles.” Under the Frist Principles funding of ESCR was to be joined with the outlawing of all human cloning. In other words, Frist advocated trading greater funding for ESCR in return for a total ban on human somatic cell nuclear transfer.

One can agree or disagree with that position. But by explicitly not conditioning his support for expanded federal funding of ESCR with the passage of a cloning ban, Frist has surrendered his own supposed principles.

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