President Barack Obama to Force Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Barack Obama to Force Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 6
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — President Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Monday that will force taxpayers to fund destructive embryonic stem cell research. Obama had been expected to sign such an order soon after taking over the White House even though the research involves the destruction of human life.

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 made some early indications he would rely on Congress to overturn the limits.

Now, Obama will sign an order to lift the limits during a White House ceremony on Monday and he will let the National Institutes of Health work out the details of how embryonic stem cell research will be funded.

Obama administration officials have been tight-lipped about what the executive order will contain but an email the Washington Post obtained spelled out that the event would cover "stem cells and restoring scientific integrity to the government process" — the common Obama attack phrase against the Bush provisions.

Expecting the executive order, National Institutes of Health officials indicated last month that they had already started working on the paperwork necessary to begin funneling public funds to projects involving the use of embryonic stem cells.

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.

Even if Obama signs an executive order requiring taxpayer funding of new research that involves the destruction of human life, Congress can still come in afterwards and pass legislation to support that decision. Doing so 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.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, has 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 says 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.

The Bush administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the use of adult stem cells, the only kind to have ever helped any patients and the kind that has been used already to treat people with more than 100 different diseases and medical conditions.

Pro-life advocates have also hailed the use of iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, which are adult stem cells that have been reverted to an embryonic-like state through direct reprogramming. They don’t have some of the same problems as embryonic stem cells such as the immune system rejecting the cells or causing tumors after injection.

The embryonic stem cell research executive order would be the second to upset pro-life advocates.

During his first week in office, Obama reversed 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.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.