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About Barack Obama's EO on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

On Monday President Barack Obama signed his executive order reversing the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He stood proudly with Americans from all over the country who have lobbied for this reversal. As he invoked the memory of Christopher Reeve who suffered from a tragic spinal cord injury, he proclaimed that this was the change "so many scientists and researchers and doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for and fought for these past eight years."

Well, not so fast. Two days later, the omnibus spending bill that Obama signed reversed his reversal. There was a provision in the omnibus spending bill called Dickey-Wicker that made it illegal to use federal funds in the creation and destruction of human embryos for research.

A White House official told CNSNews.com that in keeping with language included in the spending bill that President Obama signed into law Wednesday, federal funding cannot go to research that creates or destroys human embryos, but it can go to research that uses stem cells taken from embryos that are destroyed without federal funds.

On Monday, Obama signed an executive order lifting a previous executive order--signed by President Bush in 2001--that limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research to stem-cell lines that had been created from embryos destroyed before that time. Bush's aim was to ensure that no further human embryos were destroyed for federal research purposes.

On Wednesday, just two days after lifting Bush's executive order, Obama signed a 465-page omnibus appropriations bill that included language (at page 280 of the bill) specifically prohibiting federal funding of research that creates or destroys an embryo or subjects an embryo to risk of injury or death.

The language--known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment--has been included in the Department of Health and Human Services appropriations every fiscal year since 1996.


At this point, Democrats are trying to get other pro-life Democrats to help them overturn the Dickey-Wicker provision. Until that happens, however, the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research remains in place.

It goes without saying that it would be a good idea for Congress and the president to actually read the bills they want made into laws.

By the way, 1996 was before President Bush's term in office, so when he ordered the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, he was simply upholding the law that was already in existence.

Update: I need to issue a partial correction. The Dickey-Wicker law prevents federal funding for the creation and destruction of human embryos for research. It does not address those human embryos that have already created and are in fertility clinics. Until the Dickey-Wicker law is overturned, there will not be any federally funded human embryo farms.

Update II: I second guessed myself a little too quickly here. The CNS article outlines Dickey-Wicker in this way:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for -- (1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.

The second part of that provision does not distinguish between those embryos that have already created and are currently stored in fertility clinics and those embryos that have yet to be created. Therefore, I was right to begin with.

Update III: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air knows far more about stem cell research than I, and he has an instructional post about how adult stem cells hold far more life saving potential than embryonic.


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Comments (13)

The Clinton administration ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The Clinton administration (well, the NIH based on recommendations from HHS) developed guidelines by which privately derived cell lines (which were slated for destruction by fertility clinics) were obtained for federally funded research. Bush's ban defunded all research, regardless of who derived the cells (except on those lines already obtained, which was a very small number), along with other restrictions. Now that the ban is lifted, federal-funded research will proliferate, as there is no shortage of private labs that will derive the cells from unneeded embryos.

The amendment only prevents federal funding of the creation or destruction of embryos, not the research on stem cells derived by non-federally funded entities. The Bush ban was not just upholding a law already in place. Obama did not get pwnd by this amendment. hESC research will now find the funding it deserves.

And pretty much everything ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And pretty much everything I said above is covered in the CNS article you linked (NIH is instructed to develop new guidelines, but they won't be too different those under Clinton). You either didn't read, didn't understand, or enjoy lying about what it says.

Anyone out there bes... (Below threshold)
Patti:


Anyone out there besides me thinking that we have Peter Sellers as President from the movie "Being There?"

I think that's the real Obama.

It goes without saying t... (Below threshold)
Brian:

It goes without saying that it would be a good idea for Congress and the president to actually read the bills they want made into laws.

A White House official told CNSNews.com that President Obama was aware that the Dickey-Wicker amendment was in the omnibus bill

And it goes without saying that it would be a good idea for you to actually read the articles you want to turn into posts. But let's say it anyway.

There are 100's of scientif... (Below threshold)

There are 100's of scientific studies that have been done on AFA and our product StemEnhance. There are also 100's of scientific papers on Adult Stem Cell therapy. I have listed quite a few on my blog that you can read at www.phyl247.biz You can also find the book over at Amazon.com that Christian Drapeau wrote. It is called "The Stem Cell Theory of Renewal"

Wow, Brian sure has changed... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Wow, Brian sure has changed! Why, just a couple of months ago, he would assume anything an unnamed "White House official" said was a lie. Now, he assumes it's true - 'cause, shucks, no one associated with The One would lie to avoid looking foolish, would they?

In his defense, the Administration hasn't seemed to go to any great lengths to avoid looking foolish upon the several dozen preceding occasions of their bumbling incompetence, so it could be argued they just don't care how stupid they look.

"A White House official ... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"A White House official told CNSNews.com that in keeping with language included in the spending bill that President Obama signed into law Wednesday, federal funding cannot go to research that creates or destroys human embryos, but it can go to research that uses stem cells taken from embryos that are destroyed without federal funds."

Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but Bush's intention was to remove any incentive to create a market for such stem cells.

It remains clear (for the time being) that gov't funds cannot be used for the "act" of destroying the embryos to harvest the cells. But how will the scientists obtain the cells? Will they use gov't funds to buy them? Because in doing so it encourages what some are arguing against.

If so, it seems to just be a roundabout way to absolve the gov't of directly breaking the rule.

Take the Community Reinvestment Act for example; the gov't says they never strong armed any banks to make bad loans, but they DID fund others who did just that while the gov't turned a blind eye. In this case, banks sometimes gave out bad loans to avoid the expense of litigation which could cost them more than just money in the long run. (It's not my purpose to change the argument here. I'm only making a behavioral comparison)

In the case of this law, someone would actually stand to gain monetarily from the very behavior that is the subject of contention; the destruction of embryos. It would be legal and the gov't can say it stood by the law.

Our gov't has a habit of doing business this way. It indirectly promotes a certain behavior and then points fingers when things get out of hand.

I'm asking this honestly. Do we know if these cells will be donated or sold? (Slippery slope and all that.)

Brian, I did read the entir... (Below threshold)

Brian, I did read the entire article, and after second guessing myself, I issued an update that turned out to be incorrect. I was right to begin with. Dickey-Wicker prevents federal funding from going to the creation of embryos for research as well as the destruction of embryos for research. Not just the destruction of embryos created for research, but the destruction of all embryos for research.

"A White House official tol... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"A White House official told CNSNews.com that President Obama was aware that the Dickey-Wicker amendment was in the omnibus bill"

But that didn't stop The One from lying through his teeth as he signed the bill.

BULLSHIT!

Our gov't has a habit... (Below threshold)

Our gov't has a habit of doing business this way. It indirectly promotes a certain behavior and then points fingers when things get out of hand.

Excellent point.

Wow, Brian sure has chan... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Wow, Brian sure has changed! Why, just a couple of months ago, he would assume anything an unnamed "White House official" said was a lie.

I would? And the evidence you have for that is what, exactly? Thanks for playing, "make up a hypothetical situation and pretend to be the arrogant a-hole authority on how someone else would have reacted to it".

Now, he assumes it's true

Whether you believe him or not, he's at least a source for making that claim. Kim had no source.

Brian, I did read the en... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Brian, I did read the entire article, and after second guessing myself, I issued an update that turned out to be incorrect. I was right to begin with.

If you're second guessing yourself, then third-guessing yourself, and think you got the facts right, then your argument is with mantis, not me.

From where I sit, you implied a fact, the opposite of which was expressly stated in the article. In addition, second- and third-guessing yourself doesn't convey great comprehension of the issue. If you in fact did read the article, you didn't make much effort to get the facts straight, or even understand them.

I'm only 14 so anyone who r... (Below threshold)
James:

I'm only 14 so anyone who reads will probably think "He's just a kid" and that's understandable, but Obama did know about Dickey-Wicker (or atleast that's what they said) so that just shows how much these people pay attention :) Don't write an article unless you have ALL of the facts




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