ROCHESTER, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean criticized President Bush on Friday for restricting stem-cell research based on religious beliefs, even though he now says his own faith affected his decision to extend legal rights to gay couples.
The difference, Dean said, was that Bush's decision could deprive people of the ability to recover from serious illness, while his was an issue of morality or ethics.
In 2001, Bush limited research that destroyed human embryos. Many Christian organizations and abortion foes opposed the research, while many scientists and medical professionals said it could lead to treatment of disease.
"I think we ought to make scientific decisions, not theological and theoretical decisions," Dean told voters at a town-hall meeting. "I think that what the president did on stem-cell research was based on his religious beliefs, and I think that is wrong."