Sunday, March 08, 2009

Waiting for Obama Chapter 4 -- Political Thorns and hESC

The No. 2 story this evening on the web site of the New York Times is not one that will necessarily please the most avid advocates of human embryonic stem cell research.

Written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, the article said,
“President Obama intends to avoid the thorniest question in the debate: whether taxpayer dollars should be used to experiment on embryos themselves, two senior administration officials said Sunday.”
Stolberg wrote about a legal prohibition that is generally subsumed in mainstream media reports on hESC research. She said,
“The ban, known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, first became law in 1996, and has been renewed by Congress every year since. It specifically bans the use of tax dollars to create human embryos — a practice that is routine in private fertility clinics — or for research in which embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury."
Stolberg continued,
“Mr. Obama has not taken a position on the ban and does not intend to, Melody C. Barnes, his chief domestic policy adviser, said Sunday. The president believes stem cell research 'should be done in compliance with federal law,' she said, adding that Mr. Obama recognizes the divisiveness of the issue.

“'We are committed to pursuing stem cell research quite responsibly but we recognize there are a range of beliefs on this,' Ms. Barnes said.”
Stolberg wrote,
“A senior House Democratic leadership aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said overturning the ban 'would be difficult, but not impossible,' adding, 'It’s not something that we would do right away, but it’s something that we would look at.”
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