Newt Gingrich recently insisted that he never supported embryonic stem cell research. In a statement, he asserted: “As I have also made clear in several of my public pronouncements throughout this campaign, I oppose federal funding of any research that destroys a human embryo because we are also dealing here with human life. My convictions on human life are longstanding, deeply felt, and irrevocable matters of conscience. I will do all in my power – always – to foster reverence for life. “ But like so much Gingrich says, it just isn’t true. Watch this C-Span video from a 2005 appearance at about the 52-minute mark. It’s typical Gingrich, all in favor of the “cutting-edge of science.” He bemoans that we are falling behind China on stem cell research. He’s not in favor of using abortion to generate embryos, but at the time and subsequently the debate centered on use of embryos left at fertility clinics. On this he says he “has no problem.”
Well, that is quite a difference from what he says now. Ramesh Ponnuru has already detailed a string of past statements in which Gingrich voiced his support for stem cell research and said, for example, that “I’ve always drawn a distinction at implantation.” (He recently said that wasn’t his position.) Ponnuru asks, “Does he still favor federal funding of stem-cell research that involves the destruction of human embryos obtained from fertility clinics? Does he still believe these embryos are ‘prehuman’? Does he still believe that the right to life depends on implantation? And if he now thinks he was mistaken in the past, when and how did he come to this realization?” Fortunately, we have a couple of debates coming up, so maybe we can get some answers.