Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Hard Decision: Stem Cell Research

"I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration's ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight."

Nearly three-quarters of Americans want President Barack Obama to fulfil his campaign commitment to lift the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research according to a recent poll conducted for the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) by Opinion Research Corp. This can be accomplished either by Obama issuing an executive order or by Congress passing the bipartisan Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act H.R.3/S.5.

Both Obama and Congress have cited stem cell research as a top priority but some think it is too divisive an issue to be handled early in the new administration, remembering how President Clinton lost ground over the issue of gays in the military.

"I myself would favor legislation, so it is the law" said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Representative Pelosi, U.S. House Speaker, D-CA also comented in an interview for Stanford News Service, "Science is a gift from God to all of us. Scientists have been given an almost biblical power to cure through advances in embryonic stem cell research. A repeal of the ban is critical so that we may take advantage of the opportunity to save lives, find cures and give hope to those suffering. It is an opportunity that we cannot miss."

Though the odds are good that the bill will pass in Congress, some Democrats worry about the off-year elections coming in 2010 when 70 of their seats will be in competitive races.

In Obama's inaugural speech he urged all of us to make "the hard decisions." By signing an executive order or prodding congress to pass the Stem Cell bill he would show the world that the last eight years of grinding science under the wheels of right wing religious fanaticism are definitely over. It will also show that the government has some compassion for the ever increasing numbers of chronically ill.

The Obama campaign published the following statement about advanced stem cell research:

"Despite recent advances pointing to alternatives like adult stem cell and cord blood, embryonic stem cells remain unmatched in their potential for treatment of a wide variety of diseases and health conditions. Barack Obama has been a long-term supporter of increased stem cell research. He introduced legislation while a member of the Illinois Senate that would allow embryonic stem cell research in Illinois. Obama has cosponsored legislation to allow greater federal government funding on a wider array of stem cell lines. Obama believes we need high ethical standards that allow for research on stem cells derived from embryos produced for in vitro fertilization, embryos that would otherwise be needlessly destroyed"

By employing science, technology and innovation to work to solve an urgent health care issue, more campaign and administrative goals could be reached. Finding solutions through private companies and university-based research would promote American business abroad ultimately. Grants to university research and tax credits to private company R & D would meet some of those goals.

Allowing research to proceed on embryonic stem cells which would otherwise be destroyed might pave the way for reducing health care costs. This in turn would reduce the long term need for that health care. There is a significant list of diseases which could benefit from advanced stem cell research and development. There are millions of people who could be affected in a positive way by the results of such research. And they and their families are still waiting.

It makes more sense to have healthier people who can live long and productive lives than to have sick people who can survive to old age but have huge medical costs and diminished quality of life.

The Raw Story, Dems consider overturning stem cell ban
Nature Sept, 2008, Obama interview
Scientific American Congresswoman Slams Religious Right's Assult on Science, August 2008

Obama campaign response to the group Science Debate 2008:

Stem Cell information sites:


  1. I was very excited to hear science mentioned in the inauguration speech. For a second I thought he was going to go a little further, but I am delighted that he put the idea out there.

    Florida State University in Tallahassee is celebrating the 200th birthday of Darwin with a big event called Origins. They are looking at the evolution of everything (jazz music included) and discussing the evolution of evolution. Check out the event

  2. That's great but GA legislators are planing to put stem cell research restrictions into state law.

  3. And as Johnboy109, a Topix poster from Fitzgerald, GA, says:

    "A quirky custom still occasionally seen in Georgia is eating dirt. Folks carry it around in a baggie or tobacco tin. Any old clay will suffice. So,there,just when you thought you had heard every thing."

    So I guess this means we won't be getting any research facilities into the state...I wonder what Emory Med. School and the Medical College of Augusta think about this.

  4. I heard about Indian women, I don't remember which tribe, who used to go to the Cuyahoga River banks to get clay to eat when they were pregnant.
    You can't discount Mother Earth's natural nutrients.


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