President Obama reversed the Bush Administration's ban on government funding for embryonic stem cell research today, claiming a 'consensus' had been reached that it was the right thing to do. According to Obama, it was time to move beyond letting morals and ideology get in the way of scientific research:
Obama says that in recent years, the government has forced a false choice between "sound science and moral values." He says "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"....
In addition to reversing the stem cell funding ban, Obama says he is directing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for making sure that "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."
At the same time Obama assured everyone that while stem cell research was okay, cloning was beyond the pale:
He adds that "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."
But on what basis does the President make such a statement? Because, he states, human cloning is "wrong". After condemning restricting resarch because of ideology and morals, he turns around and does the same. But these are his lines, which appears to make it okay. What if it is determined that best way to cure Disease X is through some form of human cloning? I'm sure somewhere such research has its strong advocates.
Science itself is a morally neutral thing. The reality is that we cannot afford to let science (no matter how 'promising' it might be) dictate our society's morals and ethics, and any society with a clear moral vision should understand that.
*We will, for the sake of this argument, exclude the possibility that "stem cell research" currently polls better than "human cloning".