March 9th, 2009
04:25 PM ET
13 years ago

GOP lawmakers rip Obama over stem cell decision

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Chris Smith held a Capitol Hill press conference about stem cell research Monday."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some GOP members of Congress, including the top Republicans in the House and the Senate, blasted President Obama Monday for repealing a Bush-era policy that limited federal tax money for embryonic stem cell research, with one conservative lawmaker saying that the president is “turning the clock back.”

Watch: Smith speaks out on stem cell research

“I believe Barack Obama is turning the clock back and ten years ago, it sounded like embryonic stem cells were the future,” Republican New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith said on CNN. “They're not.”

Smith, an abortion opponent, opposes embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds. Last week, he called Obama an “abortion president.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner said Obama and Congress should instead focus on non-embryonic stem cell research, and that this decision “runs counter to President Obama’s promise to be a president for all Americans.”

“I fully support stem cell research, but I draw the line at taxpayer-funded research that requires the destruction of human embryos, and millions of Americans feel similarly,” Boehner said in a statement. “As we move forward, I am hopeful that the President will re-evaluate this and other controversial decisions that put government at odds with the sanctity of human life.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called this a “troubling shift in U.S. policy.”

“With this announcement, the government is, for the first time, incentivizing the creation and destruction of human embryos at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer,” McConnell said in a statement. “I support biomedical research and I believe the administration would be far better served by directing taxpayer funds to research on non-embryonic stem cells, which is both effective and ethical.”

Updated 4:25 p.m.

Filed under: John Boehner • Stem Cell Research
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Chryssa

    While we're curing MS, cerebral palsy and other illnesses, saving the lives of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, the GOP will still be standing behind podiums wagging their fingers at people. Sad.

    March 9, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Cristine C.

    So it's bad to use tax money to "kill" a bunch of frozen cells, but blowing up and tortring hundreds of thousands or Iraqis with taxpayer money is just fine?!

    March 9, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  3. Look what we've become.

    Just let Obama do his job. If you became sick or disabled, would you not want to know if there was a cure or not?

    March 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. Hal

    So it is better to have a nation of OCTO-moms or for these human embryos to be incinerated than to learn something from them that will benefit future generations??

    Typical short sighted GOP IGNORANCE!!!! Nothing less!!

    The GOP is the closest thing to the Taliban in the western world!

    March 9, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Cali Girl

    Thank God Science is legal again!!!! 😉

    March 9, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  6. keeth in california

    Those embryos would be destroyed by humans anyway - in a furnace or other biohazard disposal unit. So, do we throw away embryos past their expiration date or do we try to use them to help mankind?

    March 9, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Cynthia - Arkansas

    So let's get this straight. The Republicans would rather these embryos be thrown in the trash, before they are used for a good cause. These are not humans, they are only cells.

    Just think where the research would be today if it hadn't of been cut off by Bush and his fanatics.

    March 9, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. Fisheye994

    OMG, Whats next? Blood transfusions,organ transplants,vaccines,MRIs, robotic surgery? We better be careful here or we might move medicine into the 21st century!

    March 9, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Texas Teacher

    Once again.... this little bit of human cells can save lives instead of being thrown out like garbage!

    I am always amazed at the ignorance of the religious fanatics who actually believe that they have the power to destroy souls! Ludicrous! God creates souls... only God can destroy them! We provide a body for the Soul to inhabit! Therefore, that is ALL we can destroy!

    March 9, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Anglea

    FINALLY!!! EVERY Country in the world is way ahead of us in
    this research.
    Many many children live today or live a more healthy life because
    of the research that has been done in China.
    So nice to see a President actually work. Only time I saw bush was
    when he was defending his war. Bush just signed anything from a need to read. Its been a whole 8 weeks and funny how
    repubs freak out!!!
    8 years of trashing is going to take a while to fix.

    March 9, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. Tim

    Science rules.
    Religious values need not apply

    March 9, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  12. Chris

    It’s good to read that just about everyone here supports lifting the ban and understands that stem cells come from in vitro fertilization clinics, not aborted babies. The previous administration’s policy has kept an important sector of this nation’s biomedical research stuck in the late 20th century.
    Some of you have argued that stem cells can now be created from adult cells, such as skin cells, and embryonic stem (ES) cells are obsolete. This is perhaps an attempt to paint ES cell research as archaic and barbaric. Now, it is true stem cells can be created from adult cells, they are called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The problem is, however, creating iPS cells.
    To date, the only successful way of creating human iPS cells is introducing 4 genes into adult cells (any cells, skin, lung, liver, etc.) via a virus. The futility of this method is that the virus used to introduce the genes integrates those genes into your cell’s genome at random, leading to tumor formation (think of your DNA getting scrambled). This is the same reason gene therapy never really took off after all of its promise. So for now, the most promising method is using ES cells. However, we are currently working on producing iPS cells without viral vectors and I hope we succeed soon, which would indeed make ES cells a thing of the past.

    March 9, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. Steve

    It sure is nice to see the return to science in this country.

    And Obama proves you can be a Christian without being a know-nothing.

    March 9, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. shawn - GA

    Once again Mr. Obama proves he has no morals at all. To say "these were to be destroyed anyway" makes me sick. Invetro is a sin against God in the first place. We as a people deserve what is happeing to us, we turn God away every chance we can...

    March 9, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  15. shawn - GA

    Cord cells work just as well, this is a horrible thing AGAIN that Obama is doing.

    March 9, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  16. Ron Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

    This is a great new shift in policy.And I hope there are many more to come.Its time for the future now.Not never.As the republicans would have it.They are ancient dinosaurs and need to be replaced with doers not naysayers.This country will wilt away if the republicans had there way.Thank God they don't.

    March 9, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. DX in TX

    Another Republican grand standing and posing for the cameras. Its as if the moment President Obama signed this research, this guy pounced out of the woodworks to say HEY LOOK AT ME, I HAVE A BETTER IDEA. If he trully cared about this research, he would have spoken up sooner than today.

    Republicans don't care about the American people they only care about winning by attempting to discredit President Obama.
    How dare you accuse President Obama for being behind the times. If it was up to Republicans women would be barefoot and pregnant and blacks would not have the right to vote...Republicans are so out of touch it's frightening.

    March 9, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. Barbara Campbell

    Thank goodness we now have a rational president in office. Stem cell research may cure my severe hearing loss before cochlear implants become necessary.

    Is anyone surprised that the neocons are ranting about yet another CHANGE in policy by President Obama? Definitely the party of N-O: Negativity and Obstruction. Go pound sand neocons. You have nothing to offer the American people, other than your wealthy donors.

    March 9, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Steve

    The GOP is running full speed to irrelevance. Even Nancy Reagan applauds the reversal in policy. Calling Obama the abortion president is truly offensive and just plain ignorant. Obama changed the policy be executive order so that the GOP wouldn't be sitting around arguing about something that most americans support. Change, Baby, Change!

    March 9, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. jason

    Josh, your right. When life begins is a legitimate question. That's why we have an ongoing debate about when is the latest time that an abortion is appropriate. Exactly when that is is fuzzy to any thinking person, however most people reject the idea that it begins at conception. That debate is mostly settled. We HAVE had a LONG debate about the ethics of using discarded embryos. Most americans consider it ethical and expedient, 70% give or take a little last I read. The debate has gone on long enough. It's time a wise leader make a decision. Obama has done that.

    March 9, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. Jim2y

    We support the President's decision in Stem Cell research. We reject the Republican stone age cult like philosophy

    March 9, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. Josh

    @ Nikole - Your point is well taken, though not the full story. Embryos that will be destroyed anyway (and have already been created) should certainly be used for potential benefit instead of wasted. The President's order, however, does not limit federal funds to those embryos. It opens the flood gates, potentially creating a new market for embryos to be created and sold for scientific research. I think few people have a problem with using what will be thrown out anyway (though many, of course, have a problem with them being discarded in the first place); the issue is whether we will create a new and perverse incentive to create embryos for the sole purpose of selling and/or destroying them. The executive order signed today only instructs the NIH to create "provisions establishing appropriate safeguards" within 120 days. There is no indication as to what those vague 'safeguards' might be.

    March 9, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. Emma, San Jose

    As a Registered Nurse, I have more faith in scientific knowledge than I do in the parochial beliefs of the GOP who are anti-science and anti-stem cell research. If a Republican Congressperson has a relative, or is a victim left paralyzed, whose side would s/he then be on?

    March 9, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  24. Frances

    What would politicians know about this? Scientists are the ones who have been calling for embryotic stem cell research to take place and if they think that its a good idae, I would go with them because they know best about how the research works. And they have ethics too its not like the're out to destroy the world. How is moving forward in science in any way "turning the clock back?"

    March 9, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  25. Laura

    I am not a big fan of our new president, but am happy with his decision to lift the ban on federal funding of stem cell research. It makes good sense to keep the research in the United States.

    March 9, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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