Obama’s stem cell switch another setback for U.S. conservatives
It’s another day in the life of the busy Obama administration. In this case, it means another day of despair for America’s social and religious conservatives.
President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research on Monday, angering abortion opponents but cheering those who believe further scientific investigations could lead to breakthrough treatments for many diseases. You can see our report here.
Since taking office on Jan. 20, Obama has also lifted a ban on funding for overseas groups or clinics that provide or counsel on abortion services, rescinded a Bush administration rule to protect health workers who refuse to provide services and information on moral grounds, and publicly backed the constitutional separation between church and state which he said America’s founding fathers “wisely drew.”
This is a sharp departure from his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose eight years in office represented a challenge to the country’s liberals. Now it’s conservative Christians, who comprise a key base for the opposition Republican Party, who find themselves in a dilemma.
Religious and social conservatives oppose embryonic stem cell research because it involves destruction of human embryos.
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, a leading member of the Republican Party’s conservative Christian wing, summed up this view in a statement: “If an embryo is a life, and I believe strongly that it is life, then no government has the right to sanction their destruction for research purposes.”
Obama also signed a presidential memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for “restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.”
Some scientists accused Bush of sacrificing scientific research and subverting scientific findings to appease his conservative political and religious base, not only on stem cells but on climate change policy, energy and reproductive and end of life issues
If you tune into conservative Christian radio stations or read press releases and blogs from groups such as the Family Research Council, it’s clear that the “Religious Right” sees more gloom and liberal doom on the horizon.
As Obama moves to unravel the Bush legacy on social and scientific policies, they are likely to have more sleepless nights over the next four years.
(Photo: A human embryonic stem cell line derived at Stanford University is seen in this handout photo REUTERS/Julie Baker/Stanford University School of Medicine/California Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Handout, March 9, 2009)