It may not be what you think.
This was an easy step, but it was the right step, and it was the humane step.
When he signed the Executive Order lifting the federal ban on new embryonic stem cell research, President Obama was making good on a campaign promise. That’s what made it right. He was taking an action that is popular with the vast majority of the American public. That’s what made it easy. But it’s also an action that holds out the promise of curing a whole variety of debilitating diseases from diabetes all the way to Parkinson’s. That’s what made it so humane.
In a graceful touch, Obama invoked the famous and the unsung who fought so hard for embryonic stem cell research.
“As we restore our commitment to science, and resume funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don’t know, who organized, and raised awareness, and kept on fighting – even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.”
On Monday, Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum ten ensure scientific integrity in government decision-making. His Administration, he said, will “base our public policies on the soundest science.” And he pledged to “appoint scientific advisers based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology.”
What a refreshing break from the Bush-Cheney policies, which amounted to Lysenkoism—not only on stem cell research but also on global warming.
In typical fashion, the Republican Party remained the heartless party of no.
House Republican Leader John Boehner said Obama’s move “rolled back important protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell provided his usual echo: “With this announcement, the government is, for the first time, incentivizing the creation and destruction of human embryos at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.”
They talk about the destruction of human life, but fertility clinics around the country have their freezers full of embryos that they will never use and that they’ll ultimately toss in the garbage. Why not use these embryos to save lives instead?
Boehner and McConnell care more about the frozen embryos that are going to be discarded than the real-live human beings who are needlessly suffering today.
The Republican leaders are lost in the wilderness of their own barren ideology.