My response to Obama’s Executive Order

This executive order violates the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which states that “none of the funds made available in the 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.” This executive order seeks to fund embryo-destructive with federal funds, which is a direct violation of the Dickey-Wicker amendment.

Secondly, the executive order does nothing to limit reproductive cloning. It trades on the alleged distinction between “therapeutic” and “reproductive” cloning, but there is no difference between these two types of cloning when it comes to what is made. Cloning is a form of asexual reproduction, which is essentially what happens during twinning. Yet we do not set twins aside for destructive research. The fact is that all cloning creates a human being and this executive order approves the production of human beings solely for the purpose of killing them. This is simply barbaric.

Third, even though the order says that it will “lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research,” there never was a ban on such research, only a ban on research that destroyed new embryos to make new lines. The pejorative manner in which this is phrased might make good copy, but it is historically disingenuous.

Finally, the order states that embryonic stem cell research will be funded “only when it is …scientifically worthy.” The problem is the induced pluripotent stem cells are putting classically made embryonic stem cells out of business. None of this embryo-destructive research is necessary.


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Professor of Biochemistry at Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, MI. Have been at SAU since 1999. Author of The Stem Cell Epistles. Before that I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (1997-1999), and Sussex University, Falmer, UK (1994-1997). I studied Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Irvine (PhD 1994), and Microbiology at UC Davis (MA 1986, BS 1984).