Bopp promotes "therapeutic" embryo research at RNC platform meeting

As an IN delegate to the Republican National Platform Committee, Jim Bopp, self-credentialed "counsel for the National Right to Life Committee," unsuccessfully fought a one-man show yesterday to weaken proposed language calling for an outright ban on human embryo and cloning experimentation.

In the process Bopp endorsed "therapeutic" embryo research:

The problem is, is that there is ethical human life affirming reseach on human embryos. That's called "therapeutic" research....

[I]t may very well be in our future that there is therapeutic research that can be done on human embryos, and there is nothing unethical immoral, improper or... that disregards the sanctity of life if we are involved in therapeutic research.

Placing the "or" here however, means that all "experimentation" on human embryos for research purposes should be banned, including therapeutic research, and that is wrong. So I oppose the amendment.

See for yourself:

Numerous sources tell me Bopp did not confer with any pro-life groups or platform delegates before dropping his verbal bomb (except NRLC's Co-Executive Director Darla St. Martin, with whom Bopp was seen). National Review Online's Steve Spruiell reported what Bopp was thinking...

I think the amendment inadvertently could be read to ask that therapeutic research that would involve human embryos be prohibited. And therapeutic research, that is research that is done on human subjects for their benefit, is under certain circumstances appropriate.

Nevertheless, Bopp lost. Pro-life platform delegates stood strong. One told me, "This was an absolutely disgraceful performance for any pro-lifer. People were so shocked and dismayed to see Jim Bopp standing for the vote with all those people who were on the other side."

I've certainly seen Bopp do that before, standing with the other side to oppose the GA and CO personhood amendments and SD's abortion ban.

Why didn't Bopp bring his concerns to fellow pro-lifers beforehand and attempt to persuade them before the embarrassing public display of acrimony? Continued Spruiell:

Bopp's stated position - against all research on embryos that is not for their own benefit - doesn't really seem that hard to accommodate. A platform-committee staffer told me privately that he was dismayed at the way it had gone down. Delicate compromises over platform language should happen at the subcommittee level, he said, not in full committee with C-SPAN cameras and reporters everywhere.

Nor were pro-lifers convinced by Bopp's argument, given his history.

In 2004, Bopp tabled a ban on human embryo research, stating at the time the platform should not contradict the candidate, President Bush, who supported federally funded escr of existing stem cell lines.

Word is Bopp was cloning that attempt yesterday, either trying to curry favor with the McCain campaign or doing their bidding. McCain supports escr.


After reading this, I wonder how Bopp has continued to get credentials.

Posted by: Arlen Williams at August 28, 2008 7:55 PM

Wow! Why is he being employed by any pro-life organization? Why is his advice being received by any? I will be a delegate to the Convention. I have urged my state's members of the platform committee to strengthen the language on ESCR. Why are they hearing the opposite from a "pro-life expert?" This is a crazy situation, but God is sovereign and gracious.

Posted by: KOL at August 28, 2008 8:35 PM

I agree. RTLs should vote him down. Remember RTLs: unorthodoxy is treason.

Posted by: SoMG at August 28, 2008 8:58 PM

Some people think in silhouette, but often things are not so simple. Agree with Bopp or not, he had his reasons for his actions, and there are usually at least two sides to the story if not more, same as with Obama and the Illinois BAIPA.

Posted by: Doug at August 28, 2008 9:15 PM

Things are quite simple. Prolifers recognize the special value of human life from conception to natural death. To approve the use of living human embryos for research is merely to be a less radical form of Mr. Obama. Embryos belong in the womb; Mr. Hitler was wrong to experiment on human beings. End of story.

Posted by: Jon at August 28, 2008 11:52 PM


You ask how can this be? You are surprised that National Right to Life would employ him?

I'm not!

American Right to Life has been trying to expose this man since it was founded! And Colorado Right to Life before that...

The evidence of longstanding behavior just like this:

Which begins:
"In 1981, after president Ronald Reagan agreed he would sign federal personhood legislation for the unborn, National Right to Life and their longtime attorney James Bopp actually opposed that effort...."

And as this article continues, it exposes, in detail, the longstanding opposition of NRLC's Bopp and National Right to Life's acceptance of his positions.

Please realize -- American Right to Life is not the enemy. The enemy is the people you've trusted all these years. American Right to Life exists to counter these lies, and place the pro-life movement back on its mission: To end all abortion, surgical, chemical or experimental, all the time!

Bob K

Posted by: Bob Kyffin at August 29, 2008 12:10 AM

I had no idea that there was even a schism...this got a little more interesting.

Posted by: Oliver at August 29, 2008 12:14 AM

Oliver, thank you for your curiosity!

Yes -- a little history.

The schism started to develop between Colorado Right to Life and the National Right to Life leadership perhaps 3-6 years ago. Before my time, anyway. But during that time, the Colorado Right to Life board was always split between NRTL supporters and no-compromise people (which does NOT mean "nothing short of a total ban..." as many detractors like to claim -- it means they won't support any laws that tacitly endorse a fictional "right to abortion", which many pro-life laws do, when it comes right down to the principle of the thing). Neither faction could really overcome the other.

About 2 years ago, the no-compromise people at CRTL made a bid for power (using the rules laid out in the existing bylaws) and took over the board from the compromisers who supported National Right to Life.

Soon after, CRTL began holding National Right to Life and other pro-life groups around the country accountable for the compromises they'd made. I'm not going to get into a whole lot of this history, because it's still considered very controversial -- that a pro-life group would criticize another pro-life group seems like blasphemy to many, and so Colorado Right to Life was ostracized by many long-time activists. But from Jill's article, you can now see there was justification for CRTL's criticism of National Right to Life (which is where it was primarily directed).

In 2007, Colorado Right to Life was officially dis-affiliated from National Right to Life by a majority vote of the representatives (I think there were 8 or so states that voted not to dis-affiliate CRTL). The primary reason (and this is disputed by some, but this IS the primary reason) was over a disagreement over the effectiveness and propriety of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, which was NRTL's main focus over 15 years of pro-life history (they spent $250 million on this!). CRTL argued that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban would not stop even a single abortion, and was therefore 100% ineffective. There are alternative methods, and as soon as the "Ban" was passed, every abortion went ahead on schedule, just using a different procedure. The history of the last 1 1/2 years has proved this to be an accurate assessment of the "Ban".

And I say the "Ban" because Partial Birth Abortion is STILL legal (as pointed out, helpfully, by the "pro-life" Supreme Court Justices). The Gonzales vs. Carhart ruling actually recommended a different method where a baby could be partially delivered at full term, and then its brains sucked out. The justices went to great lengths to emphasize this new PBA procedure was the preferred method, and was okay under the "Ban." They also said, basically, that any law that effectively curtailed "the abortion right" would clearly be considered unconstitutional. The only reason the approved the PBA "Ban" was that it did not impair a woman's right to an abortion for any reason through 9 months of pregnancy. They SAID this in the ruling.

These schisms with NRTL have existed elsewhere, too. Some of Michigan Right to Life's affiliates were kicked out when they complained about MRTL's endorsement of pro-abortion candidates against pro-life candidates, etc.

In any case, rather than cry about being kicked out of NRTL, Colorado Right to Life instead joined with about 12-20 other pro-life organizations (including some of the largest, like Human Life International and American Life League) to form a "Personhood Wing" of the pro-life movement, which opposes the compromises of National Right to Life, and which pushes for the recognition of an actual "Right to Life" from conception forward (i.e. Personhood for the unborn).

I suppose that's enough for now. Lots has happened over the last 2-3 years. Most of it VERY positive, and most of it VERY important for the future of the pro-life movement. Witness Colorado's Personhood Amendment, which will be voted on in November! It actually has a chance of passing, and even if it doesn't then it will identify the 30 or 40% of voters who understand the Right to Life, and we can build from there!

Posted by: Bob Kyffin at August 29, 2008 12:45 AM

Okay, maybe things aren't so simple. Doug's right although I'll still take issue with his implications for Mr. Obama and BAIPA. The picture there is quite clear. And the topic of embryonic stem cell research is indeed a simple one. Therapeutic research on human embryos outside the womb is wrong. Human embryos should only be begun in the womb and should continue to be there until the best time for both mother and child. Save them both.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2008 1:12 AM

This man is insane! Comparing a willing participant in heart transplant research to the harvesting and killing of embryos to learn more about embryos? Oops, we lost one - next!

Studying is one thing, but experimentation without really understanding how an embryo works is just asking for accidents that take human life.

Is this guy making money somehow from stem cell research? This guy's creepy!

Posted by: Greg at August 29, 2008 8:13 AM

"To approve the use of living human embryos for research is merely to be a less radical form of Mr. Obama."

So is McCain then, I guess.

Posted by: prettyinpink at August 29, 2008 8:24 AM

Pretty in Pink,
I think everyone knows where McCain stands on SCR. When faced with a choice between Obama's obstinate and evilly motivated disregard for life on all levels, and McCain's misguided notion that the embryo outside the womb somehow has less value than the one inside, PLs must chose McCain. When we don't have a viable option that respects all life, we are morally obligated to choose the candidate who will at least mitigate the number of lives lost.

Posted by: DeeL at August 29, 2008 9:31 AM

Wrong. We are morally obligated to vote for a candidate who will uphold morals. If the culture only gives us choices who will not uphold morals, we are still morally obligated to stand up for morality, not to go along to get along! Read Daniel.

Posted by: Greg at August 29, 2008 10:05 AM

I've read the book of Daniel. Did you know that Daniel served in the government of a pagan empire? Not only that, but Daniel actually served the pagan kings so well that their pagan countries were blessed!

Daniel's life is a great object lesson for why Christians should not compromise our personal morals in order to curry favor with the world. However, we are not prohibited from working within the world's constraints to do as much good as we can. We are called to live in the world, not apart from it.

Posted by: Naaman at August 29, 2008 11:05 AM

I disagree on the lessons from Daniel.

When we're asked to choose between Hitler and Stalin (extreme case), who should the Christian urge people to vote for?

Should we urge people to vote for Hitler, because he only promises to kill 10 million, or should we urge support for Stalin, who might kill 20 million?

Who should the Christian support, while we're living in the world? Who should we sign our name to? Does the Bible promote Hitler or Stalin, in your view?

Or should we live apart when the only choices are evil?

The only choices aren't evil, by the way. There are more than 2 choices.

Posted by: Greg at August 29, 2008 11:12 AM

Hi gang,

this so-called ethical simplicity ain't at all simple when it comes to genetic disorders. Right now their occurrence is rare and intervention is very, very limited. Much promise is touted now as to 'correcting' DNA.

cloning seems ripe to be banned .... but this may soon become a big deal as more and more people understand that just as the bodybuilder emphasizes certain techniques to build muscle, other techniques can be employed to increase intelligence and still others to increase ... by 2-3X longevity. Will fundamental knowledge be lost because of such a ban?

I am a Catholic with many friends with genetic(including myself) disorders and it is very difficult to see any sort of hope with such a 'simple' ban.

Posted by: John McDonell at August 29, 2008 11:41 AM

John, I can think of nobody better to comment on cloning, genetic tinkering, etc., you with your vast and fascinating knowledge of how the human body works.

Here's hoping you keep on keeping on...


Posted by: Doug at August 29, 2008 1:04 PM

Jon: I'll still take issue with his implications for Mr. Obama and BAIPA. The picture there is quite clear.

Jon, what I see is people who are not pro-choice, who begin by being against Obama because he is, and then proceeding to try and paint him with an excessive brush - i.e. the "infanticide" stuff, etc.

I would like to know why the 6 Democrats voted against passing the bill as amended, that final year. If it's just a political thing, I could believe that. I wonder if the question has been put to the other 5 people - "why did you vote against it?"

Posted by: Doug at August 29, 2008 1:06 PM

John, we all have a genetic disorder, it's called SIN! The intervention? Jesus Christ!

Posted by: Jenna Roka at August 29, 2008 8:45 PM

Hi Jenna,

I guess what most perturbs me is blanket statements from people that just do not have a clue. In your view of salvation .... if I'm saved and precious/close to God, why am I left all alone? Does only God (and not His Church) love me enough to spend some time with me?

Posted by: John McDonell at August 30, 2008 8:58 PM

Dear John, you say "if" I'm saved, are you not sure?

If you believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are saved!

"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you, He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed". Deut. 31:8

You can't find a more faithful friend.

For now,we live in a broken world, but Paul says;

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us".
Romans 8:18

Perhaps, seeking fellowship in a Bible believing church will help.


Posted by: Jenna Roka at August 30, 2008 11:01 PM

nope Jenna,

'tis not enough & Jesus said so ... so did Benedict XVI years before he was pope. He said that even the devil believes in Jesus. He(the devil) just doesn't love Him.

We often cite Jesus' words 'whenever you do this to the least of my brothers, you do to me.' We too often remove these words from their context. Jesus specifies exactly those targeted people ... the ones who visit those in prison; who welcome strangers ... etc. He distinctly leaves out those who go to Church ... say Lord, Lord ..... He will spit them out!

His very own words - anyone who engages in this life is foreign-to-religiousity as long as they are not foreign-to-Jesus. Sorry, I can believe until the cows come home, but the only One who saves is Jesus, and He has some peculiar and not-too-often-used demands. I know because I'm 'out' and not 'in' ... my body is my prison, the same way unborn children are in a jail-womb waiting to be freed into more life.

Posted by: John McDonell at August 31, 2008 9:21 AM

Posted by: Greg at August 29, 2008 11:12 AM:
"The only choices aren't evil, by the way.
There are more than 2 choices."

No Greg there are not more than 2 choices, because votes for a 3rd party candidate effectively is a vote for Obama. As the only people who voting away are those who are more closely aligned with McCain.

In this case it is the lesser of 2 evils. However I personally believe that McCain can be convinced of intrinsic evil to ESCR.

And in watching the Saddleback Summit (being replayed all weekend) again last night, it seems as tho Obama is clearer on the problem with killing embryos, but that doesn't reconcile with his pro-abort position.

Posted by: TotaTua at August 31, 2008 10:50 AM

Is John McDonell 11:41 saying that the end justifies the means? Is he saying that either God is not great or He is not good? Have we not yet learned to trust Him? The very fact of genetic disorders is a result of our having played God along with our first father, Adam. Further sin is no answer to the consequences of sin. It is the culture of death.

Posted by: Jon at September 1, 2008 10:04 AM

Doug: I wonder if the question has been put to the other 5 people - "why did you vote against it?"

Presumably they've still been fellow Democrats in the intervening years before then and now. Why did none of them attempt to straighten out Mr. Obama in his long-term lie? Why can we not somewhere read of the text of such attempts?

Better yet, why can't we read up on their arguments at the time that the bill was being debated? But I'm sure we can, if we're not too lazy. And I think some already have, e.g. someone on the National Review dug up some of Mr. Obama's attempt at justification at the time of the debate--I remember reading Mr. Obama's term "whatever it is" for the baby. And Doug himself can also do some work and dig up the supposed other political motivation that pushed Mr. Obama to vote against the amended bill.

Posted by: Jon at September 1, 2008 10:20 AM

Hi Jon,

perhaps you do not know science; nor ethics; nor spirituality thoroughly enough. Mostly though perhaps there's a problem understanding Abba ... from Jeremiah on down, it's been a tough slogging to be of God's mind. It is far too easy to find a quote or two from scripture that seems to be a comfortable answer. But often there are folks who genuinely struggle with what God is saying. ((Jeremiah was killed in God's service; and so was Jesus.))

it really bugs me when folks throw out glib answers and do not know the struggle the answers came from. For instance: a malformed DNA will likely elicit a very bad disease like cystic fibrosis or at times it is so bad that the baby dies in utero.

If a doctor doing research thinks there is a way to correct that DNA (because it works in hundreds of animal experiments). Can he ethically try the technique on fetus/zygotes/even younger humans or will this ban restrict such attempts?

Now who is playing God? Are you?

Posted by: John McDonell at September 1, 2008 12:38 PM

Let's get back to the story. The story is how pro-lifers on the Republican Party Platform Committee stood united against Jim Bopp, attorney for National Right to Life. NRLC has always had a deadly habit of massaging their endorsement criteria to suit the needs of the candidate. To that end, Jim Bopp was trying to provide cover for NRLC to help bolster their endorsement of McCain (i.e., "McCain is in compliance with the Republican Party Platform...").

I had the opportunity to see Jim Bopp unravel at a campaign stop in Michigan where he actually had veins popping out of his neck and spittle hanging from his upper lip. We challenged him on his support of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that did not only NOT save a single life, it didn't even ban Partial Birth Abortions! He got so mad at us, he told us to shut up and he walked out of the meeting. This meeting, by the way, was a campaign stop for Romney where he said he would support Guiliani over McCain!

People need to wake up to the fact that neither Jim Bopp nor NRLC have any intention of ever ending abortion, as demonstrated by his motion to allow "therapeutic research" to be performed on our smallest brothers and sisters!

Posted by: Catholic Mom at September 1, 2008 4:06 PM

And Doug himself can also do some work and dig up the supposed other political motivation that pushed Mr. Obama to vote against the amended bill.

Jon, there are several quite-normal political reasons why this kind of stuff happens but it's usually "back-room" politics that isn't reported about.

Posted by: Doug at September 1, 2008 6:59 PM

Hi Catholic Mom & Jon,

I ain't finished with you two yet.

While your sentiments MAY be fine re. Bopp's track record, think twice about dismissing these particular comments holus bolus. Our nemesis, Bill Clinton signed a bill that allowed a huge increase in the B vitamin, folic acid. It seems that more than 82% of the condition spinal bifida is attributed to the lack of folic acid during pregnancy.

In our culture we think it quite appropriate to treat with drugs and surgery, etc. We trust that God has medical helpers to assist in helping us become disease-free. Of course the vast majority of this intervention is applied post-birth.

Jon says "either God is not great or He is not good? Have we not yet learned to trust Him? The very fact of genetic disorders is a result of our having played God along with our first father, Adam. " And I have learned from 'Zinc & Copper in Medicine' eds Sarper and Karcioglu: that 'over 90% of genetic defects could be prevented if sufficient zinc and vitamin B6 were taken.' To correct nutritional deficiencies that lead to multiple genetic aberrations is an aspect of experimentation. Does a wide ban also make such an intervention impossible? Please also check out my August 29, 2008 8:44 PM post in (above) the 'McCain picks Palin' thread. Will such intervention be stymied by this ban?

Posted by: John McDonell at September 2, 2008 7:35 AM

Wow... I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. I'm pretty sure we all just watched the same video, but after reading through the comments, I feel like I'm the only one who heard anything other than Mr. Bopp saying "I hate babies".

I am one hundred and ten percent against embryonic stem cell research. I am supporting McCain despite this, because we live in a fallen world, and I will not allow unborn babies to die because I "stood on principle" and didn't vote for him. On life issues, McCain has consistently been strong, except for ESCR. I pray for him that this will change and that he will become more educated on the issue, but in the meantime, he will do much to bring this country closer to a culture of life that we can be proud of. Babies die every single day of abortion. Every. Single. Day. If I can save one, just ONE, by having a president who will support pro-life legislation, I will vote for that man over someone who supports infanticide.

While lacking in style, Mr. Bopp made the extremely valid point that the language of the bill was such that it had the potential to have unintended side effects. Remember baby Samuel? That beautiful picture where a doctor was performing a surgery on Samuel in the womb and he reached out his little hand to grab the doc's finger?

That surgery, and others like it, are what Mr. Bopp was referring to. Please watch the video again. I've listened to this many times trying to find the harm in what he's saying, trying to hear where he's advocating killing embryos. Legally, the terminolgy is the same. Life-saving surgeries like that would be considered experimental the first time they were tried. And technically, that would be "therapeutic embryonic research". The research "on" embryos that he refers to in the quote Jill included, clearly, when taken in context of the discussion(and as someone who actually watched the whole thing on C-Span, I understand the context), is referring to research "for" embryo's.

Furthermore, I'd like to speak to the PBA ban. I don't pretend to understand all the issues between NRLC or all the groups that seem to hate them so bitterly. I grew up in a home that received RTL news, and became pro-life because of the educational work that they do.

I was growing up while the PBA debate was raging. My entire generation-- the most pro-life generation since before Roe-- grew up with our first impression of abortion being something in the news called "partial-birth abortion". It was horrible. It was gruesome. It made us ill, and we realized what abortion was. For the years that it was in the public eye, the debate over PBA opened the eyes of men and women, and caused "abortion" to have a bad taste in the mouth of young adults who otherwise might not have thought much about it. Certainly that's true for me.

As a law, does it ban abortion? apparently not, though I must admit that I haven't read the decision. But as an educational tool, has it changed hearts? Absolutely!! I want an amendment to the constitution that will make abortion illegal. In the meantime, aren't we supposed to be changing hearts?? Isn't that how we're going to accomplish this goal? If so, I'm thankful for the partial-birth abortion ban, as are the children who have been saved because of the awareness that the ban brought to their mothers.

Posted by: CHChick at September 4, 2008 9:14 AM

I apologize-- the link to my blog was faulty on my previous post. here's the correct one. :)

Posted by: CHChick at September 4, 2008 1:25 PM