To Further Divide Us

President Obama has signed an executive order lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, as he promised in his campaign speeches.  For anyone who doesn’t see this as yet one more blow in a long string of anti-life policies, consider the chilling words at the end of the article that people are using to justify the research:

“This was already life that was going to be destroyed… The choice is throw them away or use them for research.”

I wonder how long it would take before we use such arguments on, say, criminals sentenced to life in prison (or who are on death row, even). Or the elderly. Or the sick. Or the mentally deficient. Or…

27 Responses to To Further Divide Us

  1. largebill says:

    What you’ll get is everything that FOCA contained but chopped up and passed separately. That way those who voted for him can still claim FOCA didn’t happen.

  2. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

  3. Phillip says:

    Mark D.,

    No that’s the line over at Vox Nova. Here is my comment from there:

    I believe the funding under President Bush was for stem cell lines already established. The rationale for this is that such line continue to divide and grow and new embryos are not destroyed in their production. From your link:
    “Because stem cell lines divide continuously in culture, these lines can be used by hundreds of individual researchers.? One line alone has already resulted in 136 shipments to researchers.”
    That is significantly different than what Obama has done today.

  4. Kellene says:

    It’s painful to see him undoing everything that was done by the previous administration. I am not keen on this stem cell research….

  5. Eric Brown says:

    Well, Bush is not the president. Barack Obama is and contrary to much of what he said on the campaign trail, he is not really playing any sort of “new” politics.

  6. Matt McDonald says:

    Mark D.,

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:
    Monday, March 9, 2009 A.D. at 3:19 pm

    The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

    Back at it again? A little more of your partisan and empty rhetoric?

    The NIH could have funded ESCR until he banned it for any new lines, thus, perhaps funding immoral research on already dead embryos, he banned any funding which new research, thus discouraging the destruction of new embryos even more than if he had banned any funding at all.

    Bush did not open any doors, even if he failed to close all of the doors that we might have wanted.

  7. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    My statement stands. Bush’s legacy is ESCR funding.

  8. Matt McDonald says:


    explain your logic?

    oops… I forgot, partisanship and empty rhetoric needs no logic.

  9. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Bush was the one who closed the door on ESCR funding. Without him and his vetoes we would have had full blown funding long ago. Blaming him for this is Orwellian.

  10. Phillip says:

    Orwellian. Vox Nova. What’s the difference?

  11. Phillip says:

    Okay, trying to score rhetorical points. But it was fun.

    Anyway. Morally I believe the Vatican has pronounced that using STEM CELL LINES is not per se immoral as it does not involve the ONGOING destruction of embryos. From the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

    “What support is there in Church teaching for this position?

    A statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life issued in 2005 holds that one may use these products, despite their distant association with abortion, at least until such time as new vaccines become available”

    Here’s the link to the Vatican document:

    Click to access vaticanresponse.pdf

  12. Matt McDonald says:


    That is incorrect, the use of vaccine carries a different level of cooperation with evil than the development of same:

    As regards the preparation, distribution and marketing of vaccines produced as a result of the use of biological material whose origin is connected with cells coming from foetuses voluntarily aborted, such a process is stated, as a matter of principle, morally illicit, because it could contribute in encouraging the performance of other voluntary abortions, with the purpose of the production of such vaccines. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that, within the chain of production-distribution-marketing, the various cooperating agents can have different moral responsibilities

    This would be doubly illicit because the embryos are not voluntarily aborted, but typically created for the purpose of destruction. If this research were restricted to “discarded” embryos (which it is not) then it would still be illicit as noted above.

  13. Ryan Harkins says:

    The question of Bush’s funding of ESCR I suppose depends on where you’re looking. I don’t like the fact that he permitted any research at all, for the scandal it causes, but at the same time he did put some limitations on the research. I suppose this goes back to the problem of whether or not the perfect is the enemy of the good. In order to claim that ESCR is Bush’s legacy, one must show that his policies increased in the amount of ESCR, which I don’t believe it did (though I’m open to references to the contrary).

    Nevertheless, regardless of scandal, one’s actions are still one’s own. It was Obama who made an executive order lifting restrictions on ESCR, another in a list of nearly daily events that cater to the culture of death and snubs the pro-life crowd.

  14. Matt McDonald says:


    by way of clarification, Bush did not ban any sort of research, he only banned Federal funding of such.

  15. […] In addition to removing restrictionson ESCR, President Obama also rescinded Executive Order 13435that effectively ends funding of […]

  16. Ryan Harkins says:


    Thanks. I need to work on being more precise in my posts and comments. The gist of my argument still stands, though, in terms of the effect. Private funding tends to be slightly more discriminating than federal funding, with the effect of the latter providing opportunities for ventures that would not receive private funding. ESCR is one of those areas, especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

  17. Phillip says:


    I think what Bush allowed funding of was research on already established cell lines and not on continued production of embryos for subsequent destruction to produce new cell lines. Therefore the analogy with vaccines derived from cell lines. I would agree with the potential for scandal even with this policy as Ryan notes. As I asked on Vox Nova, does anyone have a link to what the Vatican said about Bush’s 2001 policy?

  18. Matt McDonald says:


    I see the connection you’re making, but I think it needs to be recognized that the Vatican response makes a distinction between consuming of the vaccines and producing them, the latter being immoral which would apply to experimenting on the pre-existing lines.

    I don’t believe the Vatican made comment on the Bush 2001 policy, but I think the Church’s position would be that all ESCR should be banned (not just the funding of them).

  19. Matt McDonald says:


    especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

    precisely why we need to vastly shrink the size of the federal government… it has had the double effect of crowding out private investment, and wasting taxpayer dollars on boondoggles that no private person would consider investing.

    That the ban was effective, and not technical is not really an issue.

  20. Phillip says:


    I think I cover your point under the sin of scandal. Scandal being defined ccording to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. liii, a. 1) as:

    “a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or the omission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, or in appearance; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomas: minus rectum.”

    The Vatican document seems to see this as the sin involved in the production of cell lines in vaccine production. I continue to wonder what the Vatican take on the Bush policy was.

  21. Matt McDonald says:


    I wasn’t talking about scandal, I was talking about the moral licitness of ESCR even with existing stem cell lines, it’s pretty clear to me, from the Vatican letter that it is immoral, period.

    That said, Bush’s action was not to allow such, but to ban the most offensive forms (which involve the destruction of human life presently, as opposed to in the past). Such an action is morally good. Whether one is culpable for not taking more action, such as an outright ban, or eliminating all funding is a more involved question, especially since Bush is not Catholic.

    Either way, none of this a defense of Obama’s formally evil action.

  22. Phillip says:

    Actually though, that’s the specific sin that the Vatican is addressing in the question of immunizations. Scandal is a specific sin.

  23. Phillip says:

    It seems Obama may have also cut funding for adult stem cell research:

  24. nathan says:

    If the debate about ESCR was really about curing diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes and the like, then the tremendous and overwhelming success that adult stem cells, especially skin cells have had in pursuing goals like these would be widely celebrated. Federal research money for the use of adult stem cells would be poured into research facilities with the kind of reckless abandon.

    Instead, Obama rescinded an executive order President Bush put into place funding adult stem cells and new research with iPS cells. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives” to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), “regression” (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods. Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world. Last November saw that huge advance in stem cell research when scientists announced they had found a way to produce the biological equivalent of embryonic stem cells without creating, using, or destroying any human embryos.

    So given we are able to completely sidestep all of the moral and ethical concerns about destroying human embryos and still have all that “scientific promise” of breakthrough cures, why do people chose to keep on destroying embryos?

  25. Diane says:

    At least Obama admits it’s life (and surely he knows it is human)…I don’t know if he has admitted this before…when asked by a reporter when life begins, he said he didn’t know…so I guess he knows now.

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