On one side, you have social conservatives who are trying to point up their dedication to the pro-life set of values. On the other side, you have those who oppose pro-lifers and have -- quite sensibly -- seen a big opportunity to amass public support by emphasizing the very widespread interest in finding cures for various diseases.
Consider the Wisconsin governor's race between the Republican challenger Mark Green and Governor Jim Doyle. Doyle must be upset to see this new research reported now. Look at this article from a month ago:
If Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats have their way, the biggest issue in the campaign against Republican Mark Green will be smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.Will Doyle let go of the issue now? Look how organized he is around the issue and how niftily it works for him. (It's certainly been working on me.) And he's got a special team of advisors on this issue. Don't you think they're brainstorming right now about how to keep the controversy going?
With the hope of attracting undecided voters and driving a wedge into Green's support, Doyle has launched a relentless effort to paint Green as an opponent of stem cell research, which is seen as holding the promise of treatments for a host of debilitating diseases....
In general, analysts see little risk for Doyle in pushing the issue, and potentially a high reward. Doyle already is unlikely to win the votes of those who oppose abortion - the same voters who raise the gravest concerns about embryonic stem cell research....
The Doyle campaign has created a steering committee of nationally known stem cell advocates, hired a full-time stem cell coordinator (an unheard of position for a campaign) and worked to build a network of people for whom the issue hits home.
If they try to explain away the new research, they need to be careful not to ruin what is most appealing about their position: a strong support for science. If they overreach now, their position will look a lot more like political posturing than it did before, and, as that month-old article shows, it already was starting to look that way.
UPDATE: And the FDA just approved the over-the-counter "morning-after" pill. In other science news, less likely to affect elections, Pluto is so not a planet... despite all your affection.