Obama reverses Bush on stem cell research

One of George W. Bush’s few admirable moments as president was his thoughtful speech to the nation in August 2001 explaining why he opposed government funding for embryonic stem cell research, but would support funding for adult stem cell research. The liberals and the deniers of anything higher than man, who, like the denizens of Babel, demand a world in which nothing is impossible to them, hated Bush for it. Now President Obama, to the joy of the Babelites, has reversed Bush’s policy, and, moreover, he has done so with expressions of contempt, putting down Bush’s carefully articulated, morally attuned position as a “political agenda.”

As Seth Borenstein and Ben Feller report at the “My Way” website:

“Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work.

“It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” Obama said.

Researchers said the new president’s message was clear: Science, which once propelled men to the moon, again matters in American life….

Scientists focused on a new sense of freedom.

“A new sense of freedom.” This makes it sound as if the government had been preventing scientists from doing embryonic stem cell research. In reality, all that had been withheld was government funding for such research. But, as I’ve written, “Once the government becomes the supplier of people’s needs, there is no limit to the needs that will be claimed as a basic right.” From which it follows that if the government stops paying for something that people think they need, they will think that their rights—their freedoms—are being taken away from them. And if the freedom, i.e., the government funding, that’s being denied them is the freedom to play God, imagine how great will be their anger. After all, hasn’t the Supreme Court declared that our most fundamental liberty, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, is the liberty to define the meaning of human existence? What monstrous slavery did Bush impose on us, from which Obama has now delivered us!

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Gary Bauer discusses the issue in his e-mail newsletter:

President Obama announced today that he will repeal Bush Administration restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. While many in the media and on the political Left will hail today’s announcement as “a step forward for science,” it is in reality a step backward.

Stem cell research is widely supported by the public and much of it is tremendously promising. However, virtually all of the advances that have been reported in the media have been the result of research involving adult stem cells and cells obtained from umbilical cords, not embryonic cells. Moreover, embryonic cells have proven to be unpredictable and difficult to control, often growing into tumors.

An embryonic cell is the earliest stage of human life. All the DNA necessary for a human being to develop is fully present in an embryonic cell. These cells are frequently derived from fertility clinics, and the “research” requires the human life present to be destroyed—a process fraught with tremendous moral and ethical considerations.

Adult stem cells can be derived from numerous sources, none of which requires the creation and subsequent destruction of human life. It also has the additional benefit in many cases of coming directly from the patient, thereby dramatically lowering or eliminating the chances of rejection by the body.

In fact, the progress with adult stem cell research has been so promising that last week, Dr. Bernadine Healy, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote a column persuasively arguing that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary. Click here to read her column.

Beyond the ethical considerations are concerns of efficiency. To be clear, President Bush did not ban embryonic stem cell research—he only imposed restrictions on the use of taxpayer money for the creation of new stem cell lines, which involves cloning.

But it has been going on with private funding and even a handful of states have opted to use state money to fund it, so far no to avail. If the pharmaceutical industry thought embryonic stem cells were the key to massive profits, it would be heavily invested in this research. But it isn’t, and that speaks volumes about its efficacy.

With science clearly on the side of preserving life, why is President Obama taking this step backward and opening the door to government-funded cloning research? Sadly, I can only see it as more evidence of his commitment to the radical pro-abortion agenda, and yet another example of a Big Government politician substituting his wisdom for that of the free market.

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James N. writes:

The stem cell decision is interesting.

Of course, farming of human embryos for research is not justified by the research so far. If it were submitted as a legitimate grant proposal and had legitimate peer review, it probably wouldn’t get funded.

But it IS of a piece with Obama’s rather fanatical pro-abortion politics. And, it’s hard to understand WHY Obama has taken such a strong stand on this one. This is an issue where radicalism is rejected by a majority of the people. It would cost Obama nothing to throw Rick Warren and his ilk a bone on this one.

But no. He’s apparently even willing to close down Catholic hospitals that won’t do abortions, he’s willing to sanction doctors and nurses who want to exercise their natural rights to avoid that which they in conscience cannot do, he’s willing even to tolerate the killing of infants born alive by “mistake” as a result of intended abortions.

This pro-abortion fundamentalism doesn’t really fit with the Marxism, as global “warming” obviously does, nor the black racism, which the plunder of the economy for reparations by another name does. Where do you think it comes from (what’s the point of it), and where is it going?

LA replies:

Good point. It doesn’t immediately fit with Obama’s programs for the redistribution of wealth or for racial vengeance. But it does fit with the liberal principle that nothing should stand in the way of the material power that material man exerts over the material universe to meet material human needs (which, to qualify what we both have said, does sound like Marxism). Since providing for material human needs is the liberals’ highest value, any moral or religious limit on human power that may prevent even a single sick person from being cured is an outrage to the liberal conscience. However, curing people of diseases is not the liberals’ ultimate end. Getting rid of the God of the Bible is their ultimate end. That’s why it doesn’t matter if embryonic stem cells won’t help that much in practical terms. Liberals must have embryonic stem cell research in order to establish the principle that man is God.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 09, 2009 10:06 PM | Send

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