March 31st, 2009
04:23 PM ET
4 years ago

Kaine blocks funding for embryonic stem cell research

Virginia governor Tim Kaine was Obama's choice to lead the DNC.
Virginia governor Tim Kaine was Obama's choice to lead the DNC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has signed a bill into law banning the use of some state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

The move puts the DNC chairman at odds with President Obama, who signed an executive order earlier this month reversing the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells.

Kaine approved the Virginia bill on Monday, according to the governor's office, the same day he enacted legislation that would permit "Choose Life" license plates in the commonwealth - an act that angered state and national abortion rights advocates.

The governor signed another piece of legislation Monday aimed at promoting "science and technology-based" research and development in Virginia. It contains language inserted by the General Assembly that would prevent a state fund from providing dollars to organizations or businesses that undertake "research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos."

Kaine's support for the legislation is not surprising: He is a staunch Catholic who has long opposed using taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research. But the platform of the Democratic Party, now headed by Kaine at Obama's behest, describes embryonic stem cell research as "research that could save lives."

Both the stem cell bill and the license plate uproar highlight the balancing act Kaine faces in his dual roles of the moment: one as policy-minded governor of a moderate state, and another as a the national face for a partisan organization seeking to promote President Obama agenda. Kaine will assume the DNC position full time when his term expires in January.

Asked for comment about Kaine's departure from the national party line, the DNC referred questions to the governor's office in Richmond.

Lynda Tran, the governor's communications director, said that Kaine's decision is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."

"The governor is opposed to the use of state funds to fund embryonic stem cell research, but he generally agrees with the national platform broadly, that there are scientific values to stem cell research," Tran said. "In Virginia, where there has been strong opposition to embryonic research, he has chosen to focus on other forms of research like adult and placental stem cell research."

The bill signed Monday allows funding for non-embryonic types of research.

All three of the Democrats vying to replace Kaine as governor this fall - Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds - support using state money for embryonic research.

UPDATE: A spokesman for the Republican candidate for governor, Bob McDonnell, said he opposes state funding for embryonic research but supports other forms of stem cell research. Martin said McDonnell has "a personal and direct interest" in the matter because his father suffers from Alzheimer's.

"Adult stem cell research avoids the ethical questions associated with taxpayer funded embryonic stem cell research," said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. "Bob McDonnell believes we should focus tax dollars on research methods where there is common ground.

Article updated at 9:30 a.m. EST


Filed under: DNC • President Obama • Tim Kaine
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Mark

    Good for him! There are those of us who are pro-life Democrats.

    March 31, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Vince

    Though I disagree with Kaine, I applaud him for having the fortitude to depart from the mainstream Dem. ideology and I also applaud the Democratic party for (so far at least) not admonishing him for it.

    However, I do think that basing policy on religious beliefs fundamentally goes against founding principles of our government.

    March 31, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. reggie

    Good job Governor!!!

    March 31, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. Moderate Democrat

    Republicans and GOP, quick question:

    If we started calling abortion "A double edged sword of "Pro-active Capital Punishment" and an "Anti-Terrorism Policy" that exterminates the 'suspects' at the source." And then threw in a retarded slogan, something like "War is Hell!". Would you be for it then?

    March 31, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. NYCNative

    I'm so tired of people forcing their religious beliefs on the world. Isn't one of the ideas of Christianity supposed to be tolerance?

    March 31, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Evan

    I love how an opposition to embryonic research or abortion is automatically one's "private" or "religious" stance. As if the case for protection of unborn human life as a legitimate right of moral personhood isn't a coherent argument on non-sectarian moral grounds.

    Thank you, Gov. Kaine. I do hope you stick by your decision. I don't have the same confidence in Democratic acceptance of differing views as some posters here do, and I imagine it could be a tough road on this matter.

    March 31, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Angela

    There are conservative Democrats but they are just more logical than right wing zingers.

    March 31, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. T

    Oh well................embryonic stem cell research, is very important for
    our country and for the people it may help.....Kaine is making the wrong decision. He is going on his religious views.......He is a Dem., one thing about Dem., they can speak their mind and Dem are open.

    March 31, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Ted:Canada

    Here is some advice..

    Obama – you have to do better job of explaining stem cells to the general public as most people do not know or are misinformed on what they really are.

    This may come as a surprise to you but research in the stem cell field grew out of findings by Canadian scientists Ernest A. McCulloch and James E. Till in the 1960s.

    Add to this that fact that Roman Catholics are the prodominat faith here in Canada.

    The discussion needs to be reframed! But it all starts with education!

    March 31, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. roy

    Finally, a democrat with some stones to challenge the high and mighty Obama! And also one with brains to think on his own....go figure.

    March 31, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    @ SuperMod, who said "1) Only ideas to solve the problems is spend money we do not have
    2) Sore losers. Still can't get over losing the 2000 election.
    3) Disingenuous. Making up issues that don't really contribute to solving issues such as AIG bonuses
    4) Uncompromising and inflexible. My way or the highway attitude with the stimulus bill
    5) Behind the times. Still promoting spending as the cure all
    6) Hypocritical. Criticizes everyone who does not have their beliefs and then calls everyone else out for criticizing like them
    7) Shrill. Dems do not seem interested in discussion if it means listening to the facts (CBO projections)
    Dishonest. All of the above tactics add up to not wanting to be an honest good faith player to govern as the majority party.
    9) Blaming others. The Dems need to take responsibility for their actions and words. Stop using Bush as a crutch when the housing bubble started before he took office. Look at what the Dems said when Bush tried to fix Fannie and Freddie in his first term."

    Thank you for your rousing display of a GOPer saying "I know you are but what am I?" Playground politics put you guys in the place you're in. When are you going to accept responsibility for the FACT that it is the GOP perceived by the majority of the country in the manner you just described, so you can move to step 2 and rectify it by owning up to it, showing accountability and CHANGING?

    March 31, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Larry from RI

    What do those who oppose stem cell research think happens to those embryo's that aren't used in fertility clinics?

    They are discarded with the rest of the "medical waste" and have been since this technology was first used.

    Thrown out in the garbage to be incinerated just like pulled teeth, bad appendixes, tonsils, amputated toes from diabetics etc, etc.

    Why not put them to use – I mean you don't even utter a peep while they are being treated like garbage every minute of every day?

    How twisted is that?

    March 31, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. Casey Jones

    Responsing to Mike:

    "scripture based evidence"? Sorry, but that doesn't exist.

    March 31, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Vince

    Evan, uh, perhaps you should read the article. The governor's communications director said that Kaine's decision is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."

    So, it, in fact, is a "religious" and "private" stance.

    March 31, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Jefe

    If they allow "Choose Life" license plates, they should allow "Freedom of Choice", or "Choose Abortion" or whatever as well. This is not North Korea, we should be able to express multiple viewpoints in this country, though many in the Neocon Party, and a few Democrats, would rather dictate based on the loud minority.

    March 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Derick

    Please read the entire article. I disagree with allowing religious dogma to dictate public policy, but Kaine is still willing to use other types of stem cells besides those from embryos. This is not an either-or scenario. VA can have it both ways. They can use other stem cells, just not ones from abortions. As an agnostic Virginian, that's a compromise I can live with if it'll get my gun-rack toting fellow statesmen on the bus back to the middle ground.

    March 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    @ Mike, who said "To deny scripture based evidence on this fact is to deny God."

    You know, perhaps you just highlighted the problem for everyone: SCRIPTURE IS NOT EVIDENCE. There is a fundamental difference between DOGMA, which is what scripture and "catholic law" and religious tenets are, and EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE. The Bible does NOT tell you how the world works...it suggests (and, I understand that for some it demands) how you should live in it.

    March 31, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. lars

    While I don't agree with half of his decision (fertility centers ahve to get rid of fetuses after a point anyway), I have no problem with someone staying with their beliefs, which are also of public record.

    It's not always a religious thing if you believe a life starts at conception (although it appears to be in this case). I know many atheists who believe this. There's lots of laws that appear based on religion... lying (in court/on records etc), bigammy, murder etc etc. Should these be changed?

    March 31, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Shooky

    @Moderate Democrat, BusyMom & Blue Dog

    Your posts would've made more sense had it not been for the posts of Gene, H Martin, Dutch/Bad News, Boehner bo ner, xargaw, and Frank which were all obvious contradictions to your statement. Apparently it's NOT acceptable to not toe the party line. It's sounds nice to act as if your party is so welcoming of opposing viewpoints, but usually they aren't (that goes for both Democrats and Republicans). Both parties though do have a few acceptions... John McCain was the Republican nominee for President. HARDLY someone that falls in lock step with his party.

    March 31, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Mike Smith

    Why is it that politicians take "moral" stands only on issues that do not affect themselves?

    March 31, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. TCM

    Good Job, Kaine, distance yourself from Obama....no need to take a fall for his mistakes; especially his moral mistakes.

    March 31, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. MaryanneAZ

    The beauty of the Democrat Party. We do not have to agree on every social issue in order to govern the Nation and serve its people. States can determine their own policies, laws and positions, and the Federal government can fund research and development considered to be in the best interests of the Nation. Discourse, analysis and communication are all good things. Divisiveness, rabid ideology and secret agendas not so much.

    March 31, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Jinny Lee

    Oh give me a break.....your personal beliefs are yours alone....not the majority of people you supposedly represent.

    March 31, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    True true. Very rare. But better late then never then to go down with the ship. Maybe other democrats will bail themselves out if they are smart enough.

    March 31, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. sue

    So let people in other states fund it, research it, and then Kaine will use it? Sorry, I think we'll keep our findings and cures out of Virginia...he obviously thinks God is talking to him.

    March 31, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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