Family Research Council

Obama Administration Belittles Bioethical Concerns

By David Prentice Senior Fellow for Life Sciences


During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama's acolytes talked of a "war on science." However, since taking office President Obama's Administration has shifted resources towards scientifically and ethically dubious programs, to the detriment of real scientific advance. Here are a few examples:

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Executive Order: March 9, 2009 - President Obama signed an Executive Order[1] to lift restrictions on human embryonic stem cell experimentation, as well as revoke the previous Executive Order promoting ethical stem cell research, and without prohibiting cloning of human embryos for research.[2]

Disbanding of President's Council on Bioethics: June 17, 2009 - With only one day notice to Council members, the President abruptly abolished the President's Council on Bioethics[3],[4], canceling its planned meeting, any discussions, and planned publications. A majority of Council members had criticized[5] the President's decision on permissive funding of embryonic stem cell research. A new Commission was not announced for 5 months, and not fully staffed for almost one year.[6]

Support for Taxpayer Funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: July 7, 2009 - The National Institutes of Health issued new Guidelines[7], based on the President's Executive Order, to provide an incentive for continued destruction of human embryos, producing new human embryonic stem cell lines for federal taxpayer funding.

Liberalize Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in All Federal Agencies: July 30, 2009 - President Obama issued an Executive Memorandum[8] ordering all federal agencies to adopt the liberalized human embryonic stem cell research guidelines.

Proposal to Broaden Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: February 16, 2010 - Published in Federal Register, NIH proposed new Guidelines to allow expanded federal taxpayer funding of more human embryonic stem cell lines, providing incentive for further destruction of human embryos.[9]

David Prentice, Ph.D. is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council.

[1] Office of the Press Secretary. Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells. 9 March 2009. Office of the Press Secretary, 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[2] Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery - Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum. 9 March 2009. Office of the Press Secretary, 2009, accessed June 21, 2012, .

[3] Nicholas Wade, "Obama Plans to Replace Bush's Bioethics Panel," The New York Times, 17 June 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[4] Vicki Brower, "Dismissal of bioethics council leads to speculation about its future", Nature Medicine, 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[5] John McCormack, "Members of President's Council on Bioethics Protest Obama's Stem Cell Policy", The Weekly Standard, 26 March 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[6] "Creation of the Presidential Commission," Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, accessed June 21, 2012,

[7] Richard S. Kingston, M.D., Ph.D., " National Institutes of Health Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research," The National Institutes of Health. May 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[8] Office of the Press Secretary, "Memorandum for the Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies, Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research," 30 July 2009, accessed June 21, 2012,

[9] Jennifer Spaeth, "Federal Register announcement of proposed change to NIH Guidelines," The National Institutes of Health, 23 February 2010, accessed June 21, 2012,