Federal Govt Drafts Guidelines Expecting Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 19, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Federal Govt Drafts Guidelines Expecting Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Decision

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 19
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The federal government is moving ahead with drafting the guidelines that will be put in place once President Barack Obama makes his decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. Obama, according to White House advisor David Axlerod, is expected to make the decision "soon."

At the National Institutes of Health, officials are working on the paperwork necessary to begin funneling public funds to projects involving the use of embryonic stem cells.

Under the August 2001 policy President Bush put in place, most of the federal funding for stem cell research went to adult stem cells — the only kind to have ever helped patients.

The Washington Post indicates researchers at places such as the University of California at San Francisco and Harvard are excited about the changes because they no longer have to segregate the non-federal funding embryonic research from its other public-funded projects.

The Post interviewed George Daley, an embryonic stem cell proponent at Children’s Hospital in Boston who says he can’t wait for Obama to overturn Bush’s protections for taxpayers.

"Everyone is waiting with bated breath," he said. "We’re all waiting to breathe a huge sigh of relief."

The Post also indicates some embryonic stem cell research advocates are worrying that Obama isn’t acting quickly enough or that he won’t overturn the limits as he promised during the campaign.

"We were surprised and disappointed it wasn’t in there," said Amy Comstock Rick of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. "We’re wondering why it’s taking so long."

"The word the president is ‘considering’ it is too vague a word for me," she added. "I don’t know entirely what that means. If it means he’s just working out the details, that’s great. But if ‘considering’ means ‘reconsidering’ we would be very upset."

Story Landis, who heads NIH’s stem cell task force, says the paperwork is almost ready to go once Obama signs the executive order.

He added that some of the $10 billion the NIH is getting from the economic stimulus bill could be used to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Meanwhile, Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, said Congress will not only approve a bill that would codify Obama’s executive order into law and make it harder to overturn, but said she would target another pro-life provision.

DeGette apparently wants to overturn the perennial Dickey-Wicker amendment added to federal spending bills that prohibits federal funding of research using human embryos.

She told the Post she has been talking with White House officials about ditching the amendment.

The pro-life provision has been a part of annual spending bills since fiscal year 1996. It prohibits the creation of embryos for the purpose of research as well as any research that harms an embryo, a unique human being after conception.

The provision also prohibits federal funds from being used for the intentional creation of embryos by IVF, cloning, or by any other means, for the purpose of their destruction and use in scientific experimentation.

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