Stem-cell change up next week?

In a move which will surely not endear him to the increasingly restive prolife Catholics who helped propel him into office, President Obama seems poised to lift the ban on embryonic stem-cell reseach on Monday at a "stem cell related event" at the White House (hat tip to Nancy O'Brien at CNS; also see why E.J. Dionne thinks Obama is ready to step into the culture wars).

"The move, long sought by scientists and patient advocates and opposed
by religious groups, would enable the National Institutes of Health to
consider requests from scientists to study hundreds of lines of [embryonic] cells
that have been developed since the limitations were put in place —
lines that scientists and patient advocate say hold great hope for
leading to cures for a host of major ailments."

Supporters of the Bush-era ban on such research apparently suspect that the President may make some gesture to "take the sting" out of this policy shift. But what might really take the sting out is the increasing irrelevance of such research. Some efforts to therapeutically deploy embryonic stem cell research have proved disastorous, generating tumors more readily than cures. More to the point, however, research on the therapeutic uses of adult (differentiated) stem cells has accelerated in recent months. One can only hope this particular ethical dilemma may be sidelined by better science in the near term.

Take a gander at this update from Dr. Bernadine Healy in USNWR: "Why Embryonic Stem Cells Are Obsolete." Perhaps someone could forward this report to the Prez before Monday's big event?

About the author

Kevin Clarke

Kevin Clarke is the chief correspondent for America magazine and author of Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out (Liturgical Press).