President Okays Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Special Report - March 10, 2009
Despite a growing federal deficit, President Obama issued an executive order on March 9 allowing taxpayer dollars to be used for research involving the intentional destruction of human embryos. His decision is a fulfillment of a campaign promise to rescind the limits on embryonic stem cell research that were enacted by President George W. Bush in 2001 and only allowed federal funding for research on existing human embryonic stem cell lines. In a statement, President Obama acknowledged the disagreement in the faith and scientific communities about research that involves the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. “Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research,” he said. “I understand their concerns, and we must respect their point of view. But after much discussion, debate and reflection, the proper course has become clear.”
President Obama denounced human cloning, calling it “dangerous, profoundly wrong,” and promised that the government would develop “strict guidelines” to prevent federal funds from going to this type of research. His executive order directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to support and conduct scientifically responsible human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research,” and to develop guidelines for this purpose.
In addition to the executive order, President Obama also issued a memorandum addressing “scientific integrity” in which he stressed that his administration would “base our public policies on the soundest science” and not on “politics or ideology.”
While President Obama insists that embryonic stem cell research is “promising,” most scientific advances in recent years have occurred with adult stem cells or with stem cells that do not involve the destruction of human life. To date, over 70 diseases are being treated as a result of adult stem cell research and discovery, including numerous cancers, and diseases such as Crohn’s and sickle cell anemia. In addition, scientists have found more efficient ways to produce stem cells that mimic embryonic stem cells, but are not morally problematic such as recent breakthroughs in research involving induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS), which are adult stem cells that are reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells and have the potential to become another type of cell in the body.
“Embryonic stem cell research is the research of the past. Millions of dollars have been spent on embryonic stem cell research and it has failed,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life in a press release responding to President Obama’s order. “Even more, this research destroys lives at the very earliest stage of development. Adult stem cell research is helping people now. If we’re going to put tax dollars into researchparticularly at a time of unprecedented federal deficitsit needs to be research that protects life and helps patients now.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.