Catholic and Pro-life leaders have reacted critically to President Barack Obama’s overturning of federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, characterizing the policy change as a “slap in the face” to pro-lifers and arguing that scientific advancement should not come by destroying embryonic human life.
On Monday, President Obama overturned President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order which barred funding for any embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) that uses embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001.
Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long said the president’s executive order “regrettably places ideology and political posturing ahead of proven scientific therapeutic advancements.”
“There are endless studies and stories of patients who have been treated, even cured of their debilitating condition following stem cell therapies that do not necessitate the destruction of human embryos, yet the president today will sign an executive order that makes every tax-paying American citizen unwittingly complicit in the destruction of human embryos for experimental research.”
Long cited President Obama’s Feb. 5 remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he said “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.”
Commenting on the president’s remarks, Long said “Unfortunately, there is no consistency between this profound statement and today's executive order - as destroying human embryos is, in fact, taking the life of an innocent human being.”
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, said the announcement of the policy change “should make every American shudder.”
Burch characterized President Obama’s recent actions as an “anti-life hat trick.” Burch listed the president’s nomination of “the most pro-abortion governor in the country” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, his administration’s move to rescind conscience protection rules for health care workers, and his support for embryonic stem cell research.
ESCR is “unproven research that holds no scientific promise and destroys unborn life,” Burch argued.
Saying the president’s policies shame Catholics who supported the president’s candidacy, Burch said the actions leave no doubt that “Barack Obama is most pro-abortion president in our nation's history.”
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, characterized the president’s policy change as “a slap in the face to Americans who believe in the dignity of all human life.”
“I believe it is unethical to use human life, even young embryonic life, to advance science. While such research is unfortunately legal, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for experiments that require the destruction of human life,” Perkins said. “President Obama’s policy change is especially troubling given the significant adult stem cell advances that are being used to treat patients now without harming or destroying human embryos.”
Characterizing ESCR as “the poorest stem cell science,” Perkins advocated increasing funding for adult stem cell treatments, claiming they have been used to treat over 70 diseases and conditions. Recent advances in reprogramming human skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells should instead be funded, without “compromising ethics by destroying life.”
President of Concerned Women for America Wendy Wright pointed out that “millions of dollars” have already been spent on ESCR in places such as California and England. “The results have been abject failure because embryonic stem cells tend to become deadly tumors.”
She further remarked that the alternatives to ESCR are much more “efficient, effective, and are actually treating patients.”
Jenn Giroux, President of Women Influencing the Nation, said the decision insults and offends those who believe the United States was founded and sustained by “the culture of life.”
Listing President Obama’s other pro-abortion actions, Giroux charged that his latest action “makes it feel as though thick black smoke has engulfed the country and the firemen are nowhere to be found to stop the fire.”
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said the policy change shows the president’s “disregard for social justice and human rights.”
“Medical science has confirmed that an embryo is human life regardless of President Obama's lack of education and understanding of the issue,” he remarked. “Mr. Obama has said in the past it is 'above his pay grade' to know when human life begins. I would suggest as the part of the billions spent on the stimulus package that the President's salary be raised so he could further his adult education to understand the basic facts of biology and social justice.”
Also characterizing lifting the ban on public funding for ESCR as “a slap in the face” to pro-life Americans, Mahoney argued “President Obama is once again breaking his campaign promise of building unity and consensus among all groups.”
Finally, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List noted that though the U.S. “is facing an acute economic crisis…it is shocking to learn that President Obama’s first priority is promoting the idea that American taxpayers should fund the destruction of human life.”
“There is no coincidence that this policy reversal was timed to secure the maximum amount of taxpayer funds,” she continued. “The National Institutes of Health received $10.4 billion dollars in the Obama Stimulus Package. Today’s executive order reversing the Bush policy allows the President to fast-track billions of taxpayer dollars toward embryonic stem cell research – all without the benefit of public or Congressional debate.”
Sen. John McCain, President Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential election, also opposed President Bush’s funding restrictions for ESCR.