Monday, March 9, 2009

Obama Lifts Limits On Stem Cell Research, Ends Bush's War On Science

In lifting the Bush administration's limits on stem cell research, President Obama is enabling scientists to conduct studies that may go a long way toward relieving human suffering. As explained in today's Times:

"Because embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue in the body, many scientists believe they hold the possibility for treatments and cures for ailments as varied as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease. Some researchers say stem cells may someday be used to treat catastrophic injuries, such as spinal-cord damage."

House Republican leader John Boehner complained, "...the President has rolled back important protections for innocent life." The question is, however, whether we going to forgo the potential to cure of diseases that afflict human beings in favor of protecting a cell that cannot think or feel and is not a person? Notably, two of his fellow Republicans do not agree with Boehner, including Nancy Reagan, a longtime supporter of stem cell research:

“I'm very grateful that President Obama has lifted the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. ...I urge researchers to make use of the opportunities that are available to them, and to do all they can to fulfill the promise that stem cell research offers. Countless people, suffering from many different diseases, stand to benefit from the answers stem cell research can provide. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to do everything in our power to find cures for these diseases -- and soon. As I've said before, time is short, and life is precious."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sounded a similar note:

"President Obama's executive order is a huge win for the millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis and many other illnesses. ...I applaud President Obama for removing this barrier which allows California to maximize critical research funding so we can continue to lead the world in stem cell research."

The president has also ended the Bush administration's war on science by issuing a memorandum protecting research from political influence:

"The president believes that it's particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals," Melody C. Barnes, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing yesterday.

...The decision by President George W. Bush to restrict funding for stem cell research has been seen by critics as part of a pattern of allowing political ideology to influence scientific decisions across an array of issues, including climate change and whether to approve the morning-after pill Plan B for over-the-counter sales.

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