Monday, President Obama issued an executive order reversing former President Bush’s restrictions on funding to embryonic stem cell research, pledging that his administration will “make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
Embryonic stem cells are non-differentiated cells that have the potential to become any one of 200 types of cells in the human body, from the cells in your liver all the way up to your brain. Obama’s order opens the doors to further scientific research in an area that has the potential to offer cures to diseases that have eluded doctors for decades.
Stem cells for research are currently taken from stem cell lines, which are cultures of cells, derived from four to five-day-old embryos or fertilized cells. Controversy surrounding the issue often stems from the idea that embryos discarded by fertility clinics are sometimes used.
Every year, Congress has renewed the 1996 Dickey-Wicker amendment, which bans the use of tax dollars to create human embryos for research in which scientists knowingly destroy or discard them. And in August 2001, Bush only slightly lifted this restriction.
Obama has stipulated that human cloning will not be permitted under the new order and included a presidential memorandum requiring the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to restore “scientific integrity to government decision-making.”
According to an article in The New York Times, scientists hope that stem cells will replace or repair damaged cells and could serve as a treatment for conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and Alzheimer’s.
The way we see it, we agree with the majority of Americans who Obama said, “have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research.” As long as we aren’t growing new embryos with the intent to cut them apart, we say go forward with new research.