Obama Lifts Stem Cell Ban and PossibilitiesPublished by Pamela Gentry on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 3:46 am.
By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
Fulfilling one of his campaign promises, Obama told a crowd of 150 advocates, scientists and lawmakers, “With the executive order I am about to sign, we will bring a change that so many scientists and researchers, doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years.”
Black lawmakers applauded the president’s move.
“We know that our population is aging. Debilitating chronic diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes are becoming far more common,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. ”Diabetes in particular is a huge problem, and like many other diseases, disproportionately affects minority communities. Expanding the number of embryonic stem cell lines available for research will assist scientists in developing therapeutic treatments and cures for diabetes and many other diseases.”
Obama said the policy shift from the Bush administration was needed to “restore scientific integrity to government decision making.” In 2001, Bush put a policy in place that would not allow funding for a number of stem cell lines derived from embryos. By doing so, he crippled researchers’ ability to move a great deal of research forward.
Critics charge the use of stem cells is “morally wrong” because it encourages the destruction of a human life. Some even believe it could lead to treating human beings as products that can be harvested for scientific experimentation. The president promised strict ethical guidelines on any research funded with federal dollars.
“We will support it only when it is both scientifically worthy and responsibly conducted. We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse,” he vowed.
“And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society,” Obama said.
Along with the executive order to lift the ban on stem cell research, the president also issued a memorandum calling for scientific evidence as the litmus test for research and not political ideology.