In the wake of former President Ronald Reagan's long battle with Alzheimer's disease, radio host Rush Limbaugh accused Democrats who favor stem cell research of trying to “capitalize on” Nancy Reagan's “suffering and pain” and of attempting to “take the occasion of Reagan's death” and Nancy Reagan's support for Alzheimer's charities “to put another chink in the armor of the ... pro-life crowd.” In fact, Reagan's illness and death have renewed bipartisan support for expanding stem cell research.
From the June 14 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: [T]he way I put this is I don't think that Ronald Reagan [would] ever agree to embryos, human beings, being used as spare parts. Which is what we're talking about here.
But unfortunately, it's not about Reagan, it's about Nancy. And -- and what the Democrats are trying to do is capitalize on her suffering and pain. Alzheimer's is a charity that she has, obviously, associated herself with. And the Liberals are simply trying to do -- take the occasion of Reagan's death, and -- Alzheimer's, to put another chink in the armor of the -- of the pro-life crowd, by saying, “Well, look. Even Nancy Reagan realizes the reality here. We got to do this. And she looked at her husband and who her husband was and forth.”
As USA Today reported, “Reagan's death after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease and his widow Nancy's public vow to find a cure have rejuvenated efforts in Congress to expand stem-cell research.” The day before Reagan's death, 58 senators (including 14 Republicans) signed a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to expand stem cell research.
On April 28, 206 members of the U.S. House of Representatives -- 36 of whom are Republicans, including “antiabortion stalwart Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)” -- signed a similar letter to President Bush. According to USA Today, on the day of Reagan's death, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), stated, “Perhaps one of the smaller blessings of [Reagan's death] will be a greater opportunity for Nancy to work on this [stem cell] issue.” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) acknowledged that the “3-year-old policy that limits federal funding [for stem cell research] should be reviewed.”