by Ashley Phosphate
Greenville – Federal stimulus dollars have trickled into a little known program at Clemson University which will create the nation’s largest stem cell research center. Almost two and a half million dollars have been appropriated for the project.
The move has predictably created controversy. Right to Life advocates in the state are rallying with former Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry for an all out “war” on Clemson’s stem cells.
“We aren’t going to let our state’s embryos be sent to Clemson to be turned into some Frankenstein creature,” said Holly Chisolm, president of South Carolinians for Life. “Our agenda is plain and simple, we don’t want these little babies being cut up and used to make organs for any reason whatsoever.”
State officials agree. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer flew to Clemson for a show of support yesterday. “I’m for health care and I’m for small government. And because of those two things, I’m not for this thing,” he said.
Bauer, a hopeful for the Governor’s Mansion in 2010 was impressed by the crowd which Clemson police estimated at 3,000. “To have this sizable a crowd show up and take a stand for stopping this unbridled research which uses all of our state’s embryos in such a fashion is saying a lot,” he said.
Terry, who founded Operation Rescue in Summerville in the 1980s and led marches against abortion clinics in Kansas in the 1990s, also was impressed. “South Carolinians are ready. They are willing. And together we will take back this state’s colleges and universities and ensure that no more embryos are hacked up so some scientist can get published in the New England Journal of Medicine,” he said to a roaring crowd.
Clemson officials tried to diffuse the situation saying that the embryos fit the Obama administration’s new guidelines and that they’d likely be destroyed by the fertility clinics which currently possess them. But Chisolm and Terry both shouted the officials down and ordered their followers to lock arms and block researchers from entering the facility.
Police were slow to arrest the protesters and several executed a new state law allowing law enforcement officials to refuse to make an arrest when the activity in question coincides with a “deeply held conviction” of the officer.