Barack Obama has signed an executive order reversing predecessor George W Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Obama stated that lifting the ban will “restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”
Former president George. W Bush argued that using human embryos for scientific research, which often involves their destruction, crossed a moral barrier and during his time in office urged scientists to consider alternatives. However many scientist believe that stem cell research would help find treatments for grave diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes.
President Obama warned that because of the ban scientists were deserting the U.S. for other nations. The president also made it clear that, unlike his predecessor, he believes that science and morality can mix. “When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored,” he said at a White House ceremony attended by legislators, religious leaders and scientists.
The President helped to ease the mind of opponents who argue that stem cell research is a slippery slope that leads to non-reproductive cloning and devalues the worth of a human being, by vowing that he would not permit stem cell research to stray into the wilder bounds of science such as human cloning, which he said “has no place in our society, or any society”.
Despite this assurance there was expected opposition by Republicans and religious leaders. House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said Mr Obama had undermined “protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us”.
US Catholic Cardinal Justin Rigali also opposed Mr Obama’s announcement, calling it “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.”