New Hampshire (Stem Cell)

Famous for its “first in the nation” presidential primary, New Hampshire has traditionally been a conservative enclave compared with its more liberal neighbors of Vermont and especially Massachusetts. Its all-American reputation is underscored by its inspiration for the settings for Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Grace Metalious’s Peyton

Place, John Knowles’s A Separate Peace, and the Archie comic’s Riverdale High School. Its “Live Free or Die” motto and lack of broad-based taxes have attracted a variety of summer and permanent residents, from the bikers who converge on the Lakes Region for Bike Week to the libertarian Free State Initiative, which plans to have 20,000 members move to the state with the intent of influencing local politics in their favor. Since the Cold War, southern New Hampshire has been home to many giants of the technology and defense industries, many of whom relocated their plants to the state to take advantage of its proximity to Boston and the local tax benefits.

Since the start of the Republican Party, only five non-Republican presidential candidates have won New Hampshire’s support: John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. The inclusion of Kerry and Clinton on that list may be an indication of the state’s slow softening and liberalizing as a school funding crisis forces a reexamination of the state tax structure that has been so key to New Hampshire’s identity. As of the 2006 midterm elections, for the first time since 1915, all of the representatives from New Hampshire are Democrats. As of 2008, the state has legalized same-sex civil unions, though whether that is a sign of liberalism or old-fashioned libertarianism is debatable—tradition-ally hands-off, the state is the only one with no seatbelt law and also lacks motorcycle helmet laws, mandatory automobile insurance, sales tax, and personal income tax.

The senior senator from New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg has voted solidly pro-life and against fetal tissue research, a stance he has upheld since his days as a congressman and the state’s governor. However, in April 2007, he was one of the few Republicans to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, having also supported the 2005 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Each act sought to broaden the number of embryonic stem cell lines available for federally funded research to include stem cells derived from embryos created for fertility treatments and then discarded, while continuing to forbid such funding for embryos created specifically for research. Both acts passed the House and Senate but were vetoed by President Bush. The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee when former president Ronald Reagan died after a decade-long struggle with Alzheimer’s, Gregg’s views on stem cell research may have been affected by the conservative icon’s illness; he had come of political age in Reagan’s America, was elected to the House of Representatives for his first term on the same day Reagan was elected to the presidency, and was elected as governor in 1988 while endorsing Vice President George Bush as Reagan’s successor. When Reagan’s widow Nancy made a plea on behalf of embryonic stem cell research, Gregg acknowledged to the press that her support would undoubtedly influence the debate.

Junior Senator John E. Sununu (son of George H. W. Bush’s chief of staff John H. Sununu) is more conservative than Gregg in science and technology issues and was among the hardline Republicans opposing the various stem cell bills drafted after the August 9, 2001, executive order.

Though New Hampshire has no legislation on stem cell research, its laws on surrogate parenthood are relevant. By New Hampshire law, the preembryo—that is, the cell mass resulting from a fertilized ovum, before being implanted—must not be kept ex utero (unimplanted) for more than 14 days after being fertilized without being cryogenically preserved, and no preembryo that has been donated for use in research can then be used for in vitro fertilization.

New Hampshire has no legislation on cloning. A 2004 Research America survey found that 79 percent of New Hampshire respondents opposed the use of cloning for reproduction (16 percent supported it), whereas 74 percent supported therapeutic cloning (20 percent were opposed). A poll conducted for Boston television station WBZ in advance of the 2008 New Hampshire primary found that, when asked about specific issues, most New Hampshire respondents opposed stem cell research (presumably embryonic stem cell research) by a small margin. The exceptions were supporters of Barack Obama, Rudolph Giuliani, and John

McCain, who supported stem cell research by an equally small margin.

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