Embryonic stem cells are actively debated in political and public policy arenas. However, the connections between stem cell innovation and overall health care policy are seldom elucidated. As with many controversial aspects of medical care, the stem cell debate bridges to a variety of social conversations beyond abortion. Some issues, such as translational medicine, commercialization, patient and public safety, health care spending, physician practice, and access to insurance and health care services, are core health policy concerns. Other issues, such as economic development, technologic progress, fiscal politics, and tort reform, are only indirectly related to the health care system but are frequently seen through a health care lens. These connections will help determine whether the stem cell debate reaches a resolution, and what that resolution might be.