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President Obama lifts stem cell research ban

  • 10 March 2009
  • Written by 
  • Published in Biology
On March 9, 2009, U.S. president Barack Obama enacted the executive order "removing barriers to responsible scientific research involving human stem cells," which lifts the federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research.

From the Office of the Press Secretary, the executive order states that the government limitations placed on the Department of Health and Human Services for the past eight years to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been removed.

The executive order by President Obama states, “Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions."

"Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds.”

It concludes by stating, “Executive Order 13435 of June 20, 2007, which supplements the August 9, 2001, statement on human embryonic stem cell research, is revoked.”

The full executive order is found on the White House website “Removing barriers to responsible scientific research involving human stem cells.”

The new executive order on stem cell research is sure to be controversial.

Page two provides discussion and articles about what some U.S. states are doing about this new executive order allowing for federal funds to be used for stem cell research.

Currently, the eight states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have state-funded programs on embryonic stem cell research, which were enacted after former President George W. Bush placed a federal restriction on the funding of embryonic stem cell research in the year 2001.

Maryland, one of the states authorizing state funding of stem cell research, has shown outside interest in its funding program, along with interior controversy. Additional information is found at the March 10, 2009 Washington Post article “U.S. Stem Cell Funds Freed; Md. Debates Its Own.”

Around the United States, other states are joining in to receive federal funds for their stem cell research laboratories. For instance, read about Michigan’s plans in the March 9, 2009 Business Week article “U. Michigan to launch embryonic stem cell programs.”

And, in Florida, find out what the Miami Herald has to say about its home state in their March 10, 2009 article “South Florida doctors look to speed up stem cell research.”

California is joining the states. Find out more from the San Francisco Chronicle article “Stem cell approval cheered in California” (March 10, 2009).

Institutions including The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota are also looking into the possibilities of federal funds for stem cell research. Read more about it from the Post-Bulletin (Rochester) article “Mayo to review stem cell policy” (3/10/09).

For additional information on the states and their funding of stem cell research, please read the iTWire article "Stem cell research: Where does your U.S. state stand?".

Not everyone is happy with the decision by President Barack Obama. Find out how some religious leaders are reacting to the decision on page three.

On the other hand, religious leaders around the country are not as happy with the presidential decision. Read more about how religion views the new order in the Associated Press article “Stem cell decision exposes religious divides.”

The AP article of March 9, 2009, begins by saying, “The embryonic stem cell research debate is steeped with religious arguments, with some faith traditions convinced the research amounts to killing innocent life, others citing the moral imperative to alleviate suffering, and plenty of religious believers caught somewhere in between.”

It ends with comments from Dr. Robert George of Princeton University. The professor of politics says that the stem cell issue is not a religious issue but one steeped in ethics and equality.

The article states, “He [George] said research shows that an embryo is a human being in its earliest form of development, so we have to ask ourselves whether all human life should be treated equally, with dignity and respect.”

And, George states, “I don't think the question has anything to do with religion or pulling out our microscope and trying to find souls. We live in a pluralistic society where some people believe there are no such things as souls. Does that mean we should not have moral objections to killing 17-year-old adolescents?"

In between, this article makes statements and comments for all people to read and understand, whether you are approving or disapproving of stem cell research, or somewhere undecided.

As with most everything in life, there is little black and white, but only a whole lot of gray area when dealing with such issues as stem cell research.

We all could, and should, have opinions on the matter, but these opinions need to be based on understanding and knowledge from both sides of the issue.

You will probably not find you are totally accepting of either side’s position if you rationally and logically think about the positives and negatives from both the pro- and anti-stem cell research groups.

In any case, one side has had eight years of restrictions on federal funding, and now the other side will have at least four years of funding for the research of stem cells.

Learn more about stem cells and stem cell research at:

The National Institutes of Health: Stem Cell Information (Stem Cell Basics)

Wikipedia.com: Stem Cell

How Stuff Works: “What are stem cells and what are they used for?


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