Obama reverses Bush on stem cells
Scientists had charged the former administration with political interference.
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The issue is politically problematic within the Republican Party; some prominent GOP opponents of abortion support federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, arguing that the potential benefits outweigh the moral downside. Such Republicans include Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who attended Monday’s announcement, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee.Skip to next paragraph
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But for antiabortion activists, Obama’s move provided fresh fodder for their opposition to the new president.
“While such research is unfortunately legal, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for experiments that require the destruction of human life,” Mr. 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.”
Some bioethicists also argue that Obama is giving short shrift to the strides made in recent years with adult stem cells and other techniques not derived from human embryos.
“It seems to me that what’s going on here is more about politics; it’s more about fighting the abortion battle through stem cell research,” says Charles Camosy, an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York. “What gets lost is the science and how best to help people and how best to allocate resources in an economy like we have.”
Still, a cheer went up Monday from proponents of embryonic stem cell research.
“It is time for our elected leaders to finally put progress before politics on this issue and remove all of the remaining unnecessary limitations on human embryonic stem cell research that is conducted using the best ethical and medical practices,” said Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, in a statement.
New federal funding of embryonic stem cell research will not begin immediately. The National Institutes of Health has 120 days to work out guidelines to assess requests for funding and to address the ethical issues such research raises.