President Obama overturns funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research
President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- President Barack Obama on Monday overturned federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, claiming that the previous limitations forced "a false choice between sound science and moral values" and arguing that the research has the potential for significant medical cures.

He characterized the policy change as a restoration of "our commitment to science."

The change overturns President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order which barred funding for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) conducted on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001.

At the Monday signing ceremony at the White House, President Obama said:

"Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield."

Arguing that there is no inconsistency between "sound science and moral values," he added:

"As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.  I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research – and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."

Saying many "thoughtful and decent people" are conflicted about or strongly oppose ESCR, he professed to understand their concerns.

He also said that promoting science is about protecting "free and open inquiry" and letting scientists "do their jobs" free from "manipulation or coercion." He claimed to make scientific decisions "based on facts, not ideology."

The president argued that the majority of Americans have come to a "consensus" that ESCR should be pursued. He also noted bipartisan support for funding the research.

President Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2008 election, Sen. John McCain, also opposed President George W. Bush’s funding restrictions on ESCR.

According to President Obama, ESCR supporters believe "that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight, the perils can be avoided."

Pledging to develop strict, rigorously enforced guidelines, President Obama said he would ensure that the government never "opens the door" to using cloning for human reproduction.

"It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society."

Many embryonic stem cell therapies would require human cloning to produce stem cells which genetically match the patient. Proponents of the research try to distinguish between "reproductive" and "therapeutic" cloning.

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, a bioethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, has argued that the distinction is "widely misunderstood and misconstrued." In fact, he told the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Science & Technology in December 2001, there is no difference between the two.

"There’s only cloning, and the distinction comes later when you ask what will be done with the cloned human being after it’s manufactured," he said. "Will you implant it into a uterus, or will you contravene it to gain access to its harvestable cells and tissues?"

President Obama’s Monday remarks continued by noting that the potential of stem cell research remains "unknown" and "should not be overstated." He said some scientists believe the research has the potential to treat diabetes, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

Such research may "regenerate a severed spinal cord and lift someone from a wheelchair," the president claimed.

Saying government’s failure to invest in research misses opportunities, President Obama added "Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives."

Citing embryonic stem cell research advocate and actor Christopher Reeve, who predicted he could walk within ten years using embryonic stem cell research technology, Obama commented:

"Christopher did not get that chance.  But if we pursue this research, maybe one day – maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s lifetime – but maybe one day, others like him might."

Pledging to use every resource with renewed determination to lead the world in scientific discoveries, the president concluded:

"Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America."

While federal funding for embryonic stem cell research will likely result in more destruction of human embryos, the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment forbids funding which supports research in which embryos are created, destroyed or discarded. Federally funded researchers must acquire embryonic stem cells using private funding.

On Friday, ESCR funding backer Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) told Bloomberg that she would eventually like to alter the Dickey-Wicker Amendment so that researchers would be able to make lines of embryonic stem cells that reflect the genetic and ethnic diversity of the world’s people.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 30, 2015

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:26-34


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:26-34