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« The Annunciation of Our Lord | Main | Scientific Fairy Tales »

March 25, 2009


Great post, Amy! Wouldn't the executive order still allow for federal funding once a new stem cell line has been created? If that is the case, then it could potentially have an impact.

Similarly to Corey, my question is this: under Bush's policy, which I think dates back to 2002 or so, federal funding would only be granted for "existing" embryonic stem cell lines. Did that mean "existing" as of 2002, or "existing" independent of federal funding (meaning the scientists use their own money to create the embryonic stem cell line and then get federal money to continue working on said line)? If the former, then Obama's order may arguably "update" the deadline year from 2002 to this year. If the latter, then you are right, I don't see how Obama's plan reverses anything from the supposedly anti-science Bush administration.

Apparently the NYT (not to mention President Clinton in his CNN interview) is anti-science though, by sheer force of ignorance.

Ok Amy.

Here is your first problem. You are trying to apply clear thinking to an important issue.

You need to learn the art and science of "Circle Talk". When ever a morally devicive issue rears its little head you need to agree to disagree thereby incurring a positive unresolved resolution to said difficulty accomplishing a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship of a Hope and Change nature.

Glad I could help. Great article. D.

NL and Corey, the policy was that federal funding could only be given to lines already in existence before that time. The reasoning was that by supporting research involving the destruction of embryos, even if one could keep the money completely separate from the act of destroying an embryo, the research is still being supported, and the destruction of embryos is being encouraged with federal money. It doesn't seem possible to me to isolate the money--after all, they wouldn't have the money to kill the embryo if they didn't have the federal support for every other area, so it's really no different than funding the destruction itself.

But it's really hard to figure out what's going on here because this article is the kind of information we're getting and Obama's executive order doesn't name the specific limitations it's reversing. If his purpose is to fund later stem cell lines already created, but not create new ones (since the article says federal researchers wouldn't be able to create new lines), then this ends up being the same as Bush's policy--it just starts from this moment in time instead of back in 2002. It adds a few newer lines for funding, yes, but in principle, it's the same kind of policy.

If, on the other hand, he intends to find a way to not fund the specific act of creating and killing an embryo but fund everything that comes after, that seems like just semantics since you're still funding research that involves the destruction of embryos, but I suppose that could have been Obama's intention. But I haven't heard him or anyone else mention that. The only thing I've heard is that last night Obama said something that possibly indicated he wanted to make it possible for federal researchers to use donated embryos but not create them, but that doesn't make any sense because the EO asks for funding "to the extent permitted by the law," and that isn't permitted, and Obama knows it isn't permitted, according to the statements quoted in this article. He turns around and says that's the very thing he's not going to take a position on.

Regardless, even if Obama did intend to fund newer lines but not pay for their creation, this doesn't make sense. He wouldn't need an EO to remove limitations for funding newer stem cell lines because there was never an EO creating these limitations. Bush's policy was simply his administration's interpretation of the already existing law that prohibited federal funding for the destruction of embryos. All Obama had to do was just interpret it differently. That is, instead of not funding research that involved the destruction of embryos, they would just interpret it as not funding the specific act. (I believe that's what Clinton did.)

Again, it's difficult to determine what's going on because lots of words are being thrown around, but the specifics aren't being communicated. It just seems like they're playing on people's ignorance by making a big show that people will accept unquestioningly.

Damian--yes indeed!

You are using modal logic, propositional logic, etc. which does not apply to politics.

Please do us a favor and learn quantum logic. Then as an exercise to ensure you understand quantum logic, prove the following:
"To get runaway deficits under control, you must increase deficit spending."

Statutory warning: The above is injurious to personal wealth.

Once you've completed the exercise, you are now fully qualified to apply quantum logic to ESCR.

I was thinking along the same lines (no pun intended) as you were. I truly wonder if our President & his admin. have a clue about this issue or if he is well-versed on all of the issues and is just playing a shrewd political game. Am I being too cynical? I am not ashamed to say that I am totally confused as to the President's thinking here.

"that seems like just semantics since you're still funding research that involves the destruction of embryos"

Oh, I completely, 100% agree. Both Bush's policy and Obama's policy are unprincipled; it makes no sense to denounce the destruction of human embryos and yet reward those who do so with research dollars.

It does seem like Obama's order was an empty act- whether or not he realized it would be at the time, I suppose. I could see this as being either a cover-up for ignorance, or the order as being something to soothe the people who elected him.

Of course, one major problem is that the only thing journalists have a harder time with than religion is science. I cringe every time I read an article about something in science.

Wow. I knew that skeptics have been decrying for years the shoddy nature of science reporting by journalists, but this is just ridiculous.

Hmm... Perhaps Obama intended to allow funding for research on embryonic lines created between 2002 and 2009--but not any more new ones?

If we are conservatives that care about the Constitution then we will recognize that both Bush and Obama's policies are unconstitutional. It's up to Congress to fund things like this with tax dollars, or to prohibit it from happening.

By the way, the government has no right to use my tax dollars for research of any kind.

Especially this murderous kind of research.

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