April 18, 2014

Full Text: President Obama Speech on Stem Cell Policy Change

(Source: White House Press Office)

potus_mccain_hero1Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.

At this moment, the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown, and it should not be overstated. But scientists believe these tiny cells may have the potential to help us understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and conditions. To regenerate a severed spinal cord and lift someone from a wheelchair. To spur insulin production and spare a child from a lifetime of needles. To treat Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease and others that affect millions of Americans and the people who love them.

But that potential will not reveal itself on its own. Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research – from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit – and from a government willing to support that work. From life-saving vaccines, to pioneering cancer treatments, to the sequencing of the human genome – that is the story of scientific progress in America. When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives.

But in recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research – and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.

It is a difficult and delicate balance. Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research. I understand their concerns, and we must respect their point of view.

But after much discussion, debate and reflection, the proper course has become clear. The majority of Americans – from across the political spectrum, and of all backgrounds and beliefs – have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research. That the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight, the perils can be avoided.

That is a conclusion with which I agree. That is why I am signing this Executive Order, and why I hope Congress will act on a bi-partisan basis to provide further support for this research. We are joined today by many leaders who have reached across the aisle to champion this cause, and I commend them for that work.

Ultimately, I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek. No President can promise that. But I can promise that we will seek them – actively, responsibly, and with the urgency required to make up for lost ground. Not just by opening up this new frontier of research today, but by supporting promising research of all kinds, including groundbreaking work to convert ordinary human cells into ones that resemble embryonic stem cells.

I can also promise that we will never undertake this research lightly. We will support it only when it is both scientifically worthy and responsibly conducted. We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse. And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.

This Order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. But let’s be clear: promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.

By doing this, we will ensure America’s continued global leadership in scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. That is essential not only for our economic prosperity, but for the progress of all humanity.

That is why today, I am also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making. To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals – to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives.

As we restore our commitment to science, and resume funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don’t know, who organized, and raised awareness, and kept on fighting – even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause – people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.

One of Christopher’s friends recalled that he hung a sign on the wall of the exercise room where he did his grueling regimen of physical therapy. It read: “For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it. For everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it. For everyone who said, ‘It’s impossible.’ See you at the finish line.”

Christopher once told a reporter who was interviewing him: “If you came back here in ten years, I expect that I’d walk to the door to greet you.”

Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day – maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s lifetime – but maybe one day, others like him might.

There is no finish line in the work of science. The race is always with us – the urgent work of giving substance to hope and answering those many bedside prayers, of seeking a day when words like “terminal” and “incurable” are finally retired from our vocabulary.

Today, using every resource at our disposal, with renewed determination to lead the world in the discoveries of this new century, we rededicate ourselves to this work.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

##

Comments

  1. Juan Hasbun says:

    Despite the good things that come, ESCR [embryonic stem cell research] is morally problematic.

    First, you must kill the embryo to harvest its stem cells. The embryo is a human person, killing it to benefit others is naturally evil. Its a human being, with his own dignity. Thank God I was lucky, and haven’t been treated that way, otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing these commentary.
    Let us not challenge nature.

    • Public Health says:

      When stem cells cure cancer, blindness, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, diabetes, (shall I continue?) all these fundamentalists will thank God for President Obama and the fact that they no longer must watch their children die young and their parents die without dignity. Is it morally right to leave unused embryos frozen for years until the embryo bank decides their time is up and they’re destroyed? Why shouldn’t we use these cells (because that’s all that they are) for good to heal and cure our loved ones? Stop being so paternalistic and think of the future!

      • Theodor Geisel says:

        A person’s a person, no matter how small.

      • A. Nonnie Mouse says:

        The future? There is no future, we will become over populated and destroy ourselves. There will be a short, “honeymoon” period before the world is hit with issues on a greater scale than cancer or heart disease are at the moment. Either we can extend the life of our world a little longer (its already being cut short) or speed up the process which will ultimately end in even more suffering. I’m not “pro-life” and my drivers license says i’m an organ donor.. But there’s only so far you should go

      • John says:

        no. Stem cell is not THE CURE right now. it will take more time to find the cure WITH the stem cell. How long will it take? no one knows. it may be just 1-2years, but what if it takes decades to figure out the cure for all those diseases? how many embryos will we be destroying? how many unborn babies would we have to kill? even if they are ‘unused’ there is a life in them.

    • lmmurrell says:

      First of all I am not denying that an embryo is a human, it is no question about it however the only reason I agree with stem cell research is because they are using embryos that would otherwise be thrown out from Invitro fertalization so either way the embryo will be killed. My daughter is a type one diabetic and I now more than every believe there will someday be a cure and she will no longer have to take injections every time she eats. I am very happy that President Obama has signed this.

    • James says:

      At least have the open mind to see that weather the small cluster of cells are indeed “human beings” is a debatable gray area. There is no way to prove either or. Unless you have the magic knowledge to pinpoint where life begins your argument is flawed. Don’t say god says so either. You speak to him regularly? Also the potential for embryonic stem cells is huge. The more we learn about all types the more knowledgeable we will be to make the best decision in the future. To cap the research in this field is only slowing the potential for the next breakthrough in science that someone else in the world will discover if we don’t do it first. The fear of human cloning is understandable but ultimately hindered by human nature’s inability to take care of themselves. After all, if life is the greatest gift of all, then wouldn’t giving or creating life be the best course of action? Especially if the being created was given the same inalienable rights any other living person should have today?

  2. Mike says:

    The classic morality test goes something like this: suppose there is a medical facility that is on fire. On the second floor there are 100 embryos. On the third are three children, ages 2, 5, and 10.

    Assuming you have just enough time to save either the three on the third floor, or the 100 on the second, which would you save?

    Like it or not, they are not all equal. I’d like to see them all have a chance at a life. The fact is that they won’t.

    What the Obama administration needs to do is set guidelines on embryos – to make sure this doesn’t become commercial.

  3. Jay says:

    I have diabetes. Advocates of stem cell research routinely say that diabetes is one of the diseases that they hope to be able to cure.

    I can say unequivocally that if I can be cured by killing an innocent human embryo — no thanks. If that tiny person will be killed anyway, perhaps to cure someone else’s disease, perhaps to be thrown away as useless — that does not change my decision at all. I may not be able to prevent the deaths of innocents, but I don’t have to be a party to it.

    Suppose that you lived in a society where some group was so hated that the government routinely looked the other way when they were murdered. Black people or Jews or illegal immigrants or whomever. Suppose someone came along and said that as long as these people are being murdered anyway, why don’t we harvest their organs for transplants. That way at least some good will come from their deaths. Would you accept such a transplant to save your life? What if the doctors assured you that if you didn’t take this organ, this person would still be killed, and his organs either given to someone else or just thrown away? Would that make it morally acceptable for you to take the organ? I think not.

  4. Terry says:

    What a load of hooey the classic morality test is. Only an idiot would not realise that given only one option in 2 anything can be proven. Would you save 3 children or Beethoven? Really! If this is the level of debate you guys have reached I’m not surprised we have embryos being used in research. I’m not even surprised at the death camps any more!

  5. Kristi Snead says:

    OK, I hear a lot of argument that killing these embryos to save lifes is a big No, but what about the embryos that are being chuncked into the trash because the Vitro fertilization went well and have no use for the rest. Hello people they are being thrown into a trash can, why not use them to save lives?

    • daniel says:

      That would be a good idea if using them for research actually did save lives.But so far there have been no successes in using ESC’s to treat any malady. Besides, the potential uses for stem cells are only to improve patients’ lives, not save them. So which is more important–preserving life or improving it? And another thing: is investing in research that has returned zero results really the best idea in this economy? Keeping it privatized would allow research to show if there really is potential in this field without using unwilling taxpayers’ money.

      • Mariah says:

        Have you not heard of that woman in Spain who had a malformed trachea and was able to have a successful transplant of a functional one that was made using stem cells? I think we have made a lot more progress than given credit by individuals such as yourself.

        Also, I think we need to define what a human is before this debate goes any farther. Technically, although an embryo has human DNA, and will develop into a human, some would not call it a human. Is DNA all that separates us from other organisms? I don’t think so. I think part of being a human is culture, and language, and invention, and art, etc. As far as all of these humane aspects are concerned, and embryo is on a lower level than most insects.

        Just food for thought.

        • Jennifer says:

          The biggest lie being perpetrated here is that embryos are the key to the stem cell issue, when in fact not a SINGLE “help” or “treatment” or “cure” has EVER come from that type of stem cell research. ADULT STEM CELLS, however, and stem cells from CORD BLOOD have already provided SCORES of VIABLE TREATMENTS!!!! There is really no NEED for the embryonic stem cell research to continue as it has, when it has never proved to be of use anyway. The only reason it is being continued, IMHO, is to desensitize us to the usage of human beings for morally unacceptable purposes. Just as the person above commented about the harvesting of organs of persons not liked by the state, there looms a dark day upon us, indeed – unless we wake up and cry out for the smallest with no voice, who will be there to cry out for us when WE are the ones deemed “unnecessary” or “undesirable”?

        • angie says:

          I can speak on this subject with some personal life experiences. My mother is a kidney transplant patient for over twenty years and she also recieved a bone marrow transplant from the same donor as a way to introduce the donors cells into her system. I am grateful the young nineteen yr old made his wishes known to his family members before his life was ended tragically. But heres the difference the young man had made a decision 2 be an organ donor. He had a choice so to me there is a big difference. As a registered nurse of twenty years I can say I respect each patients choice to be a donor or not to be one. Embryos with a beating heart by the way DONT have a choice. Are you GOD now choosing when to consider at what point a human is a human? It is dispicable to make a statement like embryos are lesser than an insect!!! Remember you were in that state one time without culture etc. So Do u think babies at 2,4,or 10 months who have not yet developed a culture should be expendable as well? Your lack of education and intellegence should be embarassing and keep your mouth shut!!However I see it doesnt! how much do u even know about stem cell research? I guess if that embryo was a result of you and a signifcant other having sex you would feel the same! Your indiffence for human life is frightening to me and appalling!

  6. L. Ellenberger says:

    Obama thinks it’s just dandy to promote embryonic stem cell research, but thinks cloning is wrong? He needs to sort out his priorities. At least cloning isn’t the deliberate ending of a human life.

    • Daniel says:

      Actually, therapeutic cloning is the deliberate ending of a human life; the cloned cells would be stimulated to divide, and at the blastocyst stage the inner cell membrane cells would be removed, destroying the embryo. Reproductive cloning would also require many human embryo deaths, as many embryos die for every one that actually implants and is born.

  7. Garrett Camp says:

    I think that anyone who is for stem cell research is completely wrong in what they think. When scientist conduct experiments to further the science they are killing humans. They may not be able to do anything other than sit in the womb but they are alive. Have you ever thought about what if they could feel pain can you imagine if someone came up and took your life from you in a painful way. The embryos that are being studied are alive and would have became children if they would have had the chance to do so. Anyone of them could have grown up to take on the role of our president, or maybe they could have found the cure for the diseases they were killed to find. We will never no what they could have done because they are being destroyed to, do oh what should i say “”improve a human life”" yes that word is improve not save. The scientist cant save the life only improve it. Why would you want to improve a life only to destroy one at the same time. Thats just being hypocritical. Sure i do think that Embryonic Stem Cell Research is a good thing but they dont have to destroy the Embryo to accomplish the study. The scientist can take stem cells from many different places that dont kill the embryo. I dont know why they dont just take the stem cells from the places that dont kill the embryo. Any way you look at it they are taking a life away from a human. If you are for it you can not say they arnt taking away a life that could have been possible. If you are against it you will say they are taking a life from a living human being. No matter which its still taking a life. I have chosen my side and im 100% against the stem cells being taken from the blastocyst. If you dont know what that is, it is the inner cell mass of stem cells. Oh and just so you know im 100% against Barrack Obama federally funding abortion clinics so that the goverment can use the embryos to further there studies. Abortion and stem cell research are both evil and wrong. Thats really all i have to say.

    • fkdajf says:

      Garrett Camp, and anyone who agrees with him.. You are retarded.

    • Tran says:

      I just want to put in my two cents on the “could be the next president” thing. That arguement is bull. They could also be the next Mike Myers, or even still born. Don’t tell me the potential of an unborn fetus. Tell me whether it’s right or wrong to use that fetus for a purpose other than living its own life.

  8. Kirk says:

    This is not a left-right issue. It is a right-wrong issue. Using these embryos is wrong, and who knows what type of tests they are doing with these embryos? Chimeras? Nazi eugenics? Who knows, the ruling elite are mad men!

  9. Dewk says:

    If you can repair or make life a little easier for the handicapped. FYI People who are Organ Donors are worth a lot more dead then alive if you are they may not try so hard to save your life:)

    • AK says:

      Of course they’ll always do everything they can in order to save a life – no matter what. And if they don’t save the person, their actions will be investigated.

  10. maria edwards says:

    Dear president I think you are very smart and deffendly have comen sence, why discard all those Embryos when the can be used to save so many lives Maria Edwards

  11. Eleanor Molly says:

    I believe for the sake of our planet stem cell research should not Be allowed. I am not an anti-abortionist, I’m entirely pro-abortion. The “killing of onnocent embryos” isn’t the issue that bothers me. However, there is a point to which nature should be interfered with. Disease exists for a reason, to keep the natural balance of the world. In the short term this is beneficial to humankind, but to the rest of the organisms we SHARE the world with its highly destructive and selfish.

  12. Jared Grant says:

    Throughout that speech, Obama makes no attempt to hide the obvious risk and chance involved in pursuing this scientific line of research: all the experts agree, men like Robert Winters, that “this may, this might, hopefully” it will cure these diseases. Are you people that condone such actionS aware of the pheasability these stem cells will cure these terrible diseases? I am not without sympathy: my God has instilled that within me, and sickness is not in any sense endurable. But two wrongs do not make a right; in no way does this justify the lifes that are stolen for the good of another. This is verging on such innovations the Nazi’s advocated! You will scorn me for that, saying that the Nazis were evil, yet say mind you some of their ideas, some of their findings in genetics have proved crucial to science today. In an ethical vaccuum, there is no absolute, only subjective morality.

    And of this morality test, what are you exactly saying: that there are 100 fetuses floating in jars? that there are 100 pregnant women upon the third floor with unborn embryos inside them? your analogy is not plausible. However, i gather the effect of it and what you mean:
    the person who placed that “test of morality,” you put yourself in that position: time is not a factor, you would do your best to save both parties in your humanity, not spending precious “time” deliberating who to save, playing God: that is exactly what these scientists do, justifying death at the improvement of overall quality of our lives: would you consent to a plot of prime real estate in an African country, at the genocide of a tribe that has lived there for generations. Don’t you dare belittle human life!!!

  13. Jared Grant says:

    I am curious as to why my comment has not been posted: so we advocate freedom of speech, yet deny those speech who we personally have a discrepancy with? oh no, i understand, this isnt a contradiction: this is humanity.

    People: please realise that stem cell research at the cost of embryos, is wrong, plain and simple. If u have a discrepancy with the idea of an embryo as a human being, perhaps this will register with you, as it occurred to me the other day:
    Human beings are -like the embryos we determine as beneath humanity- are a collection of cells at any point in our lives. Human beings renew themselves completely around 3-4 times in the course of an average lifetime. If this is so, what defines us? what binds all that together so that humans maintain their humanity? The religious call it the soul. The inconvienient truth? no amount of science can convict a man of his own respective essence. But, we cant prove the soul does not exist either, and science is emerging now, adapting to this idea of a threefold humanity (body, soul and spirit) though in denial of religion. Hypothetically speaking, if a ‘god’ were to exist, as the great end all over us, what right do you have, Oh man, to exert your desires over another? To take life to save life? further, If those who are purely scientific do not acknowledge a soul, as science cannot prove it, can they not acknowledge -at least in other areas- the limits to scientific proof? why not in this area? and further, hypothetically speaking, if this ‘god’ is to exist, calling that man shall not murder, do you, oh man, think you should tempt the unknown? You don’t know when exactly this “soul” becomes present in a human being, this deeply human atrribute; inasmuch as you dont know exactly when this attribute leaves him (which makes much trouble at the other end of the scale also, with comatose patients): if you dont know, then isnt the wisest thing to do in your ignorance and humanity is to not risk it? not to tempt fate? not to defy God?

  14. Jared Grant says:

    I retract the introduction of my statement, and apologise to these people who maintain this site: rashness often shows our own ignorance, and foolhardiness, however i would hope that God would still will that my words shall have merit, and someone may read them, and be convicted.

  15. NiamhMc says:

    Embryos are clearly not human being because they are a clump of undifferentiated cells with no organs such as brain,heart or lungs. It has no human characteristics eg breating,excretion or feelings. It is just cells. People dont hestiate to have cheek cells experimented on.

  16. and has no place in our society, or any society.” Full text of Obama’s speech on Stem Cell Research March 9th

  17. Obama gave a speech on Executive stem cell policy that Charles Krauthammer referred to as

  18. Daniel says:

    Actually, Clinton was the first. “1993 – As per the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, Congress and President Bill Clinton give the NIH direct authority to fund human embryo research for the first time.”
    ~Wikipedia

  19. abby says:

    I very much so agree with president Obama’s statement about “medical miracles do not happen simply by accident”. I agree with this because doctors are very well trained and can determine things like medicine and how it works with people bodies. Medical miracles just don’t happen automatically or if your lucky. They happen because of different procedures and medical uses. Removing the ban on the federal funding of stem cell research will have positive impact on economic benefits for several US industries. Federal funds will push research much farther and much faster. Many fertility clinics already dispose of fetuses as medical waste, with no benefit to research or society. Some argue that since the fetuses are already being wasted, the “material” could be used to help others recover or be in better health. Stem cell research holds what has been described as “limitless potential” for medical research. For Obama, the opportunity to fund research that could result in new cures for old conditions, as well as the chance to ramp up the economy with a flood of investment in biotechnology companies was too strong to resist. Not only is this good for the researchers but great for the economy , to hopefully see a up spring in the future of our country and its people.

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