Thursday, May 26, 2011

Obama, God and stem cells

U.S. President Barack Obama gave comfort last week to stem cell researchers in his country by repeating his commitment to ending Washington's ban on embryonic stem cell research.

"I guarantee you that we will sign an executive order for stem cells," Obama said in response to a question from Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) during a private meeting with House Democrats last Thursday.

That sort of comment doesn't leave much wiggle room, comfort for those scientists concerned that the new president hasn't already reversed the funding ban imposed by Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush.

Bush brought in his ban to preserve the sanctity of life, as he saw it, a reflection of his religious views.

What's interesting about last week's comments, then, is that Obama -- also a religious man -- invoked God's name in his support for stem cell research.

"God gave us power to make smart decisions, to cure diseases, to alleviate suffering."

Speaking for many in the scientific community, Lawrence R. Soler of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation urged Obama to move quickly.

"Signing an executive order now is the single most important action needed to allow scientists to fully explore the promise of stem cell research. ... With a stroke of his pen, the president can change the pace of science."


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