Federal Law vs. Executive Order

Ken Connor,  Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC., posted an article at Townhall.com about the recent ruling by Judge Royce Lamberth which places a temporary injunction against President Obama’s Executive Order  (which overturned restrictions on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) put in place by former-President Bush).  The problem with the President’s Executive Order is that there is a federal law passed in 1996 (during the Clinton Administration) which prohibits federal funding of research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos.

In the article, Mr. Connor wonders:

“Is this the philosophy of science that President Obama had in mind when he spoke of science’s “proper place?” Is this why his executive order discontinued funding for alternatives to ESCR, alternatives that have proven more successful than the embryonic approach without any of the ethical controversy? Is this why he felt justified in manipulating the power of his office to override standing federal law? It’s clear from the president’s words and actions on this issue that the answer to all of the above is a resounding “yes.””

We do need to remember that in the past, policy on ESCRhas been decided by elected officials in Congress.  If President Obama wants the 1996 ban on funding research that creates or destroys human embryos and to discontinue funding for alternative research, he needs to ask Congress to pass a law–not take matters into his own hands.  As Mr. Connor points out, there are valid alternatives to embryonic stem cell research.  There has been progress in treating certain medical conditions using cells from umbilical cords and using adult stem cells.  To defund the research that is bearing fruit in order to make a political statement does not help improve anyone’s health.  Hopefully, the judge’s ruling will hold and the funding for alternatives to ESCR will continue.