Obama’s Delay on Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research Raises Questions

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama’s Delay on Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research Raises Questions

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 4
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — To hear Barack Obama on the campaign trail, President Bush’s refusal to force taxpayers to fund life-destroying embryonic stem cell research was standing in the way of helping patients. Obama quickly reversed Bush’s protections against foreign abortion funding but he hasn’t touched the stem cell debate.

Obama supporters hoped he would quickly overturn the limits President Bush put in place in August 2001 that prevent federal funding of new embryonic stem cell research.

Bush said he would not fund new research because it involved the destruction of human life. Instead, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the use of adult stem cells — which are already helping patients with dozens of diseases or conditions.

After taking office, Obama gave an interview to CNN in which he said he would likely not issue an executive order overturning Bush’s limits but wait on Congress to send him a twice-approved bill Bush vetoed that would fund the unproven research.

Now, Rep. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican who is one of the key sponsors of the bill, says he expects Obama will issue an order within weeks.

He says the Obama administration has been busy with other subjects but will eventually get to the executive order and do so in advance of Congress signing off on his bill.

"I believe there will be an executive order lifting the funding ban," Castle told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "My speculation is that it will happen in a few weeks. . . . They’ve had a lot of things to deal with. I see no bump in the road."

Castle disputed the claims from some embryonic stem cell research backers who say Obama backpedaled and told the newspaper that the order and a law approved by Congress would go hand-in-hand.

He said that, even if Obama overturns the Bush limits, he and co-sponsors of the bill will move ahead with the legislation.

"Most members of Congress are supportive and would be happy to vote on the measure," Castle said.

Whenever Obama decides to move on a bill or an executive order, it will upset pro-life advocates who support good science but want ethical standards.

The pro-life movement strongly supports adult stem cell research and the use of the newer induced pluripotent cells (iPS cells) that are derived from reverting adult stem cells to an embryonic-like state without the destruction of human life.

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