As Catholic News Service reported, "The executive order Obama signed permits federal funding of stem-cell lines created since [the signing of President Bush's executive order], but would not allow funding of the creation of new lines, leaving that decision to Congress." Since Obama had promised to sign such an order during his presidential campaign, the only people who were surprised by the move were those Catholics who had voted for Obama but did not believe that he would carry through on his promises.
In one sense, President Obama's executive order is simply a logical extension of President Bush's. In an article I wrote six years ago, I noted that, "By choosing to implement his 'compromise' by executive order rather than through legislation, President Bush left the door wide open to its repeal by a future administration." Both Obama and his Republican opponent, John McCain, had supported legislation in 2007 that would have expanded funding for additional lines.
In signing his executive order, President Obama declared that President Bush had made "a false choice between sound science and moral values." From the standpoint of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, there are many reasons to criticize President Bush's "compromise." For instance, in January 2007, Tony Snow, President Bush's press secretary, bragged that the administration had made embryonic stem-cell lines available for research, and the administration's budget that year called for an additional $74 million in funding for ESCR.
But President Obama's particular criticism of his predecessor's executive order could not be more wrong. In the seven-and-a-half years that have passed since President Bush signed his executive order, as many as 70 therapeutic uses have been developed using adult stem cells--research which the Catholic Church fully supports--but not a single one has been developed using embryonic stem cells.
"Sound science," in other words, is on the side of those who uphold "moral values" by opposing the destruction of human embryos for research. That makes it all the more clear that the political pressure for expanded funding for ESCR has nothing to do with actual scientific advances, and everything to do with an ideology that devalues unborn human life.
More on ESCR:
- The Catholic Church's Teaching on Stem-Cell Research
- Should the U.S. Government Fund Embryonic Stem-Cell Research?
- Where Do Barack Obama and Joe Biden Stand on Embryonic Stem-Cell Research?
- Where Do John McCain and Sarah Palin Stand on Embryonic Stem-Cell Research?
- Does Joe Biden Know His Science?
- Avoiding the Culture of Death