17 Mar Obama’s Reversal of Bush’s Stem Cell Research Policy
News reports have been buzzing about stem cell policy and the stark difference in opinion that President Obama has from former President Bush. For the average person, like myself, a bit of research is necessary in order to understand what the issue is exactly. Turns out, it’s a simple one really, but it has far-reaching implications.
In 2001, former President Bush had imposed a restriction on federal funding for stem-cell research citing a moral stance against anything that resembled cloning. He did not offer too much of an explanation at the time simply stating that it contradicted the platform of his policy for the nation. Many were left to speculate as to why the restriction was enforced. Some came to the conclusion that he chose to silence the debate on exactly how embryonic stem cell research can possibly lead to human cloning and deciding to take a moral/political stance against it.
In sharp contrast, President Obama recently announced that the restriction on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research has been lifted. President Obama believes that funding the programs for developing stem-cell research does not put morals and science at odds with each other. In fact he states that “Rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced, what I believe is, a false choice between sound science and moral values.” He went on farther to say, “In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.” He focused on the possible benefits from the research and the great medical advances that could be produced from further research. He claimed that the scientists had been hindered by the political agenda of the former leader of the White House and that now was a time to encourage genuine scientific research and a restoration of scientific integrity and not mask it with political motives.
So how does this new ruling affect the average Baby Boomer? Stem-cell research is believed to have the potential to find cures for such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and, even, Parkinson’s disease. Scientists in this area are finding ways to produce cells that will replace the important cells that people who suffer from these diseases lack. For example, in the case of a diabetic, they are attempting to grow cells that can produce insulin so as to eliminate that diabetic’s need to inject him/herself with insulin.
As you can see, this is a pretty big deal, and Bush avoided the debate of cloning by simply eliminating the government’s hand in any of this type of research. There are some people who believe that embryonic stem cell research will inevitably result into cloning, but many others believe that as stem-cell research does not actually delve into the production of all cells, but rather specific cells for specific purposes. President Obama made his stance on cloning clear by stating that stem-cell research will be governed by strict guidelines saying “And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.”
President Obama’s decision can mean good news for us, because it may mean a step closer to cures that have escaped doctors for years. However, until we know exactly what those strict guidelines are for monitoring the research we can’t really say whether the flood gates have been opened for human cloning or anything of the like. ‘Tis the twenty-first century indeed!
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