Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden drew fire on Tuesday for his remarks claiming that Republicans’ pledged support for parents raising children with developmental disabilities or birth defects should drive them to support stem cell research.
Speaking to voters at an event in Columbus, Missouri, Biden said:
"I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there's joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?"
Fox News reports that Biden aides denied the U.S. Senator from Delaware was referring to his Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose infant son has Down syndrome.
While Sen. Biden is a Catholic, Catholic ethics hold embryonic stem cell research to be unethical.
The Republican Party platform opposes embryonic stem cell research, which derives stem cells from the destruction of human embryos. However, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has supported funding such research.
McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt criticized Biden, saying:
“Barack Obama’s running mate sunk to a new low today launching an offensive debate over who cares more about special needs children. Playing politics with this issue is disturbing and indicative of a desperate campaign.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser also criticized Biden’s remarks, saying in a press release that she was “appalled” by his “caustic comments.”
"Today Senator Biden outrageously implied that Americans who refuse to sacrifice innocent human life in the name of unproven, desperate attempts to cure our nation's ills through embryo-destructive research somehow don't really care about children,” Dannenfelser wrote. “I am a mother of five children, one with a mental disability. The fact that Joe Biden questioned the compassion of parents like me – Governor Sarah Palin, among them – makes me sputter in disbelief."
"Compassion can never be built upon callous disregard for human life,” she stated. “History has shown this has led to the near elimination of entire classes of human beings. I want to talk to him about compassion – and not the kind that leads to the gas chamber."