Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Obama can expect a bioethics fight

Pro life lobbyists in the United States are pledging to not give up their fight against embryonic stem cell research despite pledges by US President Barack Obama, who took office yesterday, to open the door to funding the work again.

Faith-based blog is reporting that pro life forces see an opportunity in Obama's musing that he might go to Congress to restore federal funding to embryonic stem cell research, rather than issuing an executive order as has been expected.

Citing the conservative Wesley J. Smith, who has his own blog, Lifenews says going to congress will give pro life groups time to "educate the president and the public" on the issue and alternatives to using embryonic stem cells in research.

"The delay 'can also open up opportunities for opponents to educate the President (whose comment about Alzheimer's shows that he needs it) and the public -- such as the incredible breakthroughs happening with adult stem cells and the potential of 'alternative methods' to heal the breach that this issue has caused to the body politic.'"

On the other side, secular groups and scientists are anxiously awaiting Obama's next move on the issue, and are emboldened by his promise in his inaugural address to "restore science to its rightful place."

Commenting to the Religion News Service, Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition of America was "heartened at Obama's pledge to `restore science to its rightful place,' a veiled reference to criticism that religious ideology trumped research during the Bush administration -- especially in the field of bioethics."

Stem cell researchers are excited about the possibility of getting federal funding -- which Obama's predecessor George Bush banned in August 2001 -- to advance their work. Discover magazine is even saying that restoring federal funding for stem cell research -- and other research -- should be part of the new president's economic stimulus package.

Commenting on the Science-Based Medicine blog -- founded a year ago by Yale doctor Steven Novella to counter the perceived politicization of science in the U.S. -- teaching physician Peter A. Lipson argues the case that politics be kept out of science.

"When politics trumps science, medicine suffers. If we are willing to compromise our science and our ethics as physicians for political expediency, we have failed our most sacred duties. If politics can open the door to deciding what is fact and what is fiction, then invalid medical ideas can walk right in."


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