Obama Frees Funds for Stem Cell Research

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President Barack Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, Monday, calling the decision necessary for scientific development rather than a disregard for moral objections surrounding the issue.

Pro-life groups have been long-time opponents of the research, which uses cells from donated embryos to conduct scientific studies.

Still, Obama said embryonic stem cell research should be about the "medical miracles" it can present, and that the government cannot continue to create a "false choice between sound science and moral values" by restricting funding for it.

Click play for CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody's report and for comments from David Prentice of the Family Research Council.  Also, click here to watch President Obama's remarks on the stem cell research reversal.

"As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering," Obama said. "I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research, and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."

Obama's executive order ends restrictions former President Bush placed on the research in 2001. Bush limited the use of tax dollars to only 21 stem cell lines developed before that year and banned the use of federal funds for research conducted from then on.

Obama Vows Caution, Responsibility

The president has already caught criticism from lawmakers on his decision, which he promised on the campaign trail to fulfill if elected.

No. 2 House Republican Rep. Eric Cantor said Obama should continue to focus on the economy, not on a long-simmering debate over stem cells.

"Frankly, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research can bring on embryo harvesting, perhaps even human cloning that occurs," he said Sunday. "We don't want that. ... And certainly that is something that we ought to be talking about, but let's take care of business first. People are out of jobs."

Obama promised the research would not be taken "lightly" under his watch and the the door for cloning would never be opened.

"We will support [stem cell research] only when it is both scientifically worthy and responsibly conducted," he said. "We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse."

Beyond Stem Cell Research

Obama made clear that the policy change involved stem cell research but was also about other scientific areas like climate change.

A memo on the order was released vowing to restore "scientific integrity to government decision-making."

Obama will appoint scientific advisers to oversee the plans. He said the order marks the beginning of a government "open and honest" to letting scientists "do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient."

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