Krauthammer on Obama's Stem Cell Position

Charles Krauthammer is, as usual, exactly right. In this case, about Obama's new Stem Cell Policy:.

What Obama is doing is he's expanding the range of the federal funding of research involving embryonic stem cells. He is allowing the use of embryos that were created in fertility clinics and are not going to be used anymore.

Now, I supported that when I was on the president's council of bioethics and in my writing, which I suppose is why the White House invited me to the signing ceremony.

But I declined for three reasons. One is the president has left open the cloning of human embryos in order to destroy them in experiments. Secondly, he leaves open the creation of human embryos entirely for the purpose of research and experimentation.

And thirdly, he had a memorandum which he signed in which he talks about restoring the scientific integrity in government decisions, which is an outrageous attack on Bush.

I disagreed with where Bush ended up drawing the line on permissible research, but he gave in August of 2001 the single most morally serious presidential speech on medical ethics ever given, and Obama did not, even though I agree on where — I agree more on where he ended up.

So I think it was disrespectful. And in pretending, as Obama did, that there's never a conflict between ethics and science, he was wrong.

I suspect that they're not going to be asking me to any more signing ceremonies in the future.

Emphasis mine. All of Krauthammer's points are valid, but what irritates me most is the idea I have emphasised above. President Bush was absolutely right in his understanding that there are serious ethical questions about what sort of scientific research and medical practices should be permitted in our society. As biological science progresses at an ever faster rate, the need to address these questions will become even more pressing. President Bush got no credit at all for trying to lead the nation by bringing these issues to our attention.

Obama's position echoes the position of the anti-Bush crowd, which was never based on science or ethics, but rather on opposition alone. Indeed, the idea that there is no place for restrictions on scientific research is dangerously naive and ignorant of history.

Past accounts of appalling abuse of human subjects in scientific research are well known. Medical researchers today are typically required by their institutions to undergo training in ethics and on the history of unethical medical research that has been done in the past. That's the way it should be.

Experiments that are scientifically interesting are not necessarily acceptable ethically. Obama can stick his head in the sand for a few more years, but the issue isn't going away.

Ann says: I figure, if you aren't at least troubled by embryonic stem cell use, and how they are used, then you really aren't paying attention.