Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research Seen as Ideological, Not Scientific

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

Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research Seen as Ideological, Not Scientific

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 9
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Barack Obama cast his decision to force taxpayers to fund destructive embryonic stem cell research as a scientific one, but critics say Obama is clearly making an ideological decision. They point to advances in alternative research that show the science has left embryonic stem cells behind.

Obama signed a pledge to "restore scientific integrity in governmental decision making," but observers say today’s decision was anything but scientific.

"The media — and I must say, the new Administration — continue to confuse and conflate policy differences with science," says bioethics attorney and watchdog Wesley J. Smith.

He calls the decision to overturn the limits President Bush put in place on funding the unproven stem cells "policy disputes — which belong in the political realm — not science issues."

"Embryonic stem cell research restrictions were based on important ethical issues," Smith explains. "The mainstream media and Science Establishment are part of the Liberal Establishment that wants to take us in certain directions politically and culturally."

"That’s fine, if they were only honest about it. But they don’t have the candor to admit they are as political and ideological as their opponents. Instead, they pretend they are objective, indeed, scientific. That may be a good political tactic, but nothing could be further from the truth," he adds.

Meanwhile, Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross says the remarkable advances of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are beginning to subsume embryonic stem cells.

She wrote in U.S News and World Report that IPSC and adult stem cell research successes have "diminished" the prospect that ESCR is the future of regenerative medicine.

"Even for strong backers of embryonic stem cell research, [Obama’s decision] is no longer as self-evident as it was, because there is markedly diminished need for expanding these cell lines for either patient therapy or basic research," Healy explains.

Senator Sam Brownback, a pro-life member from Kansas who has led efforts to fund and promote non-destructive types of stem cell research, also says the science has left embryonic cells behind.

"After a decade of private and public research around the world, embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human life, has yet to yield any clinical trials or any real-world successes," he told LifeNews.com.

"And the controversial embryonic stem cells have caused serious problems including creating tumors in animal tests," he added.

Brownback suggests focusing funds and efforts on non-destructive, non-controversial, and much more successful adult stem cell research, while being open to the induced Pluripotent Stem Cell technique, which allows for embryonic-type research without using or destroying human embryos.

“There are exciting and numerous advances with adult stem cell research, including peer-reviewed successful human patient treatments for conditions including type-1 diabetes, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease," he concludes.

"It only makes sense to think of the patients first and focus federal dollars in these more promising areas, which do not cause serious moral concerns for many Americans," Brownback said.

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