Barack Obama May Rely on Congress to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barack Obama May Rely on Congress to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Barack Obama may rely on Congress to do the dirty work of making taxpayers fund embryonic stem cell research with public money. The incoming president had been expected to use an executive orders to reverse the protections President Bush put in place.

In August 2001, President Bush put forth a policy preventing federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life.

Instead, he put hundreds of millions of dollars behind studies conducted with adult stem cells, the only kind that has proven effective in helping patients with a variety of diseases and medical conditions.

Obama campaigned on the promise of reversing the Bush policy but he now says he will likely wait on members of Congress to pass a bill, for the third time, forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic research. Bush vetoed the first two bills.

“Well, if we can do something legislative then I usually prefer a legislative process because those are the people’s representatives,” Obama told CNN.

“And I think that on embryonic stem cell research, the fact that you have a bipartisan support around that issue, the fact that you have Republicans like Orrin Hatch who are fierce opponents of abortion and yet recognize that there is a moral and ethical mechanism to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can actually find potentially some hope out there, you know, I think that sends a powerful message," he added.

“So we’re still examining what things we’ll do through executive order,” Obama continued. “But I like the idea of the American people’s representatives expressing their views on an issue like this.”

Although Obama couched his potential decision to wait on Congress in terms of making it a representative one, doing so also makes it more difficult for a future pro-life president to reverse Obama’s actions.

Instead of issuing a subsequent executive order, a future pro-life president would be forced to rely on Congress to approve a bill putting the Bush protections back in place. With a Congress strongly in favor of embryonic stem cell research funding, that appears unlikely.

When it comes to executive orders, Obama is expected to drop one bomb on the pro-life movement that will begin establishing his pro-abortion record.

On Wednesday, Obama’s first day as president of the United States, he is expected to reverse the Bush policy on foreign abortions known as the Mexico City Policy. That prohibited forcing taxpayers to finance foreign groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations.

While the money doesn’t fund abortions directly, the groups will have an easier time funding abortions and can use taxpayer funds to lobby the governments of pro-life nations to abandon their culture and heritage and allow abortions.

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