May 16, 2021

A Strange Turn of Events


On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order reversing President Bush’s order to not use any new lines of embryonic stem cells for research with federal money.  New lines could still be tested using state funds and through private companies, but federal funds could not be used.

As expected, the pro-life movement was against this turn of events, and some characterized Pres. Obama as the Abortion President.

What happened only two days later on the same topic has not, however, gotten as much publicity.

On Wednesday, President Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill to keep government operational, lectured the Congress not to put pork in spending bills (just as he was signing a big slab of it), and reversed himself—I have to think unknowingly:

President Barack Obama signed a law that explicilty bans federal funding of any “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

The provision was buried in the 465-page omnibus appropriations bill that Obama signed Wednesday.  Known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, it has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every fiscal year since 1996.

The amendment says, in part: “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.”

Found in Section 509 of Title V of the omnibus bill (at page 280 of the 465-page document), the federal funding ban not only prohibits the government from providing tax dollars to support research that kills or risks injury to a human embryo, it also mandates that the government use an all-inclusive definition of “human embryo” that encompasses any nascent human life from the moment that life comes into being, even if created in a laboratory through cloning, in vitro fertilization or any other means.

Call it God or coincidence, I find it pretty amusing that this amendment got passed basically thwarting his executive order not two days later, shedding light both on the issue, its divisiveness, and the lack of transparency in legislation coming out of our government.

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9 thoughts on “A Strange Turn of Events

    1. Hey IAMB, interested in your take on this whole process, since you’re more in the field than I am. Is the whole thing overrated? Is there really more to be gained with embryos than older stem cells? Do you think it’s appropriate for the federal government to be funding it?

  1. If I’m correct Min, that line only prevents the money from that particular bill from being used for stem cells. The government can still set aside funding for stemcell research.

    1. I just read that the Obama Administration was going to attempt to use a loop hole, and yet it’s definitely going to be different than what all was being said on Monday.

  2. I’m not in the stem cell field, being a strictly micro guy who does antibiotic and radiation work for the DoD, but I’ll give you my take anyway…

    The reason we need to look at embryonic cells is that unlike adult stem cells, they can become anything we might need and aren’t limited to only a few tissue types. The trick is to figure out how to both make them become what we want and at the same time not grow out-of-control (i.e. tumors). Now, the part that’s most exciting is that if we figure out how to control embryonic stem cells, we will almost certainly be able to do the same thing using adult cells harvested from the very same person we’re hoping to treat with whatever stem cell therapy our hypothetical situation requires… anything from regrowing CNS tissue to repairing Alzheimer’s damage to perhaps even culturing whole organs for transplant. Without being able to thoroughly examine embryonic stem cells, the chances of ever realizing the full potential of adult cells is mighty slim.

    So in shor, yes, I support funding embryonic stem cell research. The more people we fund to look into it, the faster we’ll have what we need and be able to move away from them completely.

    IAMBs last blog post..A Miracle? Perhaps Not…

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