March 9th, 2009
12:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama overturns Bush policy on stem cells

President Obama signs the executive order on stem cell policy Monday at the White House.

President Obama signs the executive order on stem cell policy Monday at the White House.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama signed an executive order Monday repealing a Bush-era policy that limited federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research.

Watch: Obama explains stem cell reversal

Obama's move overturns an order signed by President Bush in 2001 that barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.

Obama also signed a presidential memorandum establishing greater independence for federal science policies and programs.

Critics of the Bush administration argued the former president allowed political factors improperly to influence funding decisions for science initiatives as well as to skew official government findings on issues such as global warming.

Obama's action is part of a broader effort to separate science and politics and "restore scientific integrity in governmental decision-making," White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Sunday.

In a conference call with reporters, Barnes said funding research is also part of the administration's plan to boost the plunging U.S. economy.

"Advances with regard to science and technology help advance our overall national goals around economic growth and job creation," she said, adding, "I think anytime you make an effort to try and separate these pieces of the puzzle, you're missing the entire picture."

Updated 12:11 p.m.

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soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Lotta Muni

    Why use this occaission as a political slap at the right rather than trying to bring everyone together in the center by stressing the potential good this could lead to for all? So much for Obama the great uniter.

    March 9, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Dan

    This is in response to April's post of:

    Great -now that the government is allowed to fund this research–where will they get the money? If they took all the pork out of the omnibus bill there would be enough to fund years of research where it could really make a difference. If Obama signs this bill, with all the earmarks–it's like giving away your virginity–you can't get it back. Instead of being known as the president with biggest ears–he'll be known as the president with the biggest earmarks

    As a researcher who applies for federal grants I want to raise the following point. The omnibus spending bill itself had a large increase in funding for the National Institute of Health among other agencies – and this funding is designed to increase the availability of grants for just such activities... its just not immediately clear from the news reports you read.

    March 9, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. itbeme

    my mom died from ALS. My dad and oldest sister have MS. Three cousins have MS. An Aunt has Parkinsons. ALL OF THESE CONDITIONS SHOW PROMISE WITH STEM CELL RESEARCH.

    Why is it the idiots who talk about 'killing babies' when using stem cells, never have anything to say about the thousands who die awful, painful, slow deaths from these diseases?

    March 9, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Willy G

    ... and Obama sweeps yet another Bush socially-conservative Republican barrier to a better world into history's garbage heap.

    March 9, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. AJ

    Common sense returns to public policy!

    March 9, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. Ray Fisher

    The dark age of idea repression has ended, long live new ideas, knowledge and mental liberty!!!

    March 9, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. ines

    Excellent job, President Obama! Millions of people will benefit from your courageous and forward thinking.

    March 9, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. ines

    Thank you President Obama! Millions of people will benefit from your courageous and forward thinking!

    March 9, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. George James

    We wasted eight years of stem cell research, because of a president like Bush.There are many more like Bush in the Republican Party, where, commonsense is not commonly found.

    March 9, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. adods

    If you think the Bush ban was about morality you are sadly mistaken. By banning funding for government reseach Bush handed the bio-med industry a huge advantage in the development and patenting of stem cell technology.

    I bet if you looked at the portfolios of many of the good ethical Bush republicans you will find where their 30 pieces of silver are.

    March 9, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Doug, New Jersey

    Obama has said no to clones because he realizes he has more than enough here at the CNN ticker and in the so called "mainstream" media.

    March 9, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Socialism, is just something we GOPS come up with scare people. We rather implement a theocratic regime under the GOP rule.

    March 9, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. MN Independent

    Re: Number of documented clinically successful therapies or cures using ADULT stem cells: 73 and counting

    Number of documented clinically successful therapies or cures using EMBRYONIC stem cells: 0

    And you wonder why these numbers happened, birdbrain? BECAUSE dubya shut science down with his 'no separation of church and state" mentality.

    Thank you so much, President Obama!

    March 9, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. chuck

    All of George Bush's policies must be reversed. George Bush wasted eight years in the White House and stripped the weath of the country in the process. All the Bush's croonies are richer today and every other American is broke.

    March 9, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Charles in NY

    So, we now have the President saying that embryonic stem cell research can move forward. Good, for what it is. But, were there any other alternatives than this? Are there any being researched at this moment, or is this the only way to go? If science is so advanced, why haven't they found "alternative" solutions to help heal the sick and cures for these diseases already? Are they absolutely certain that embryonic stem cells will cure HUMANS and not animals? I will watch itently on this for several reasons, all personal. I've been told my mother is in the beginning stages of ALS, my grandfather had ALS, and I've had several relatives die from cancer and other various, painful maladies.
    Yet, the only way to prolong the cancer patient's life is by chemo and radiation, and that creates as much pain as the cancer itself, as well as poisons the cancer patient.
    I believe that the adult stem cell research should continue (let's not abandon it b/c embryonic stem cell research was approved), and let's figure out a way to cure some of these diseases.
    While we're at it, why not find cures for MD, autism, Cerebral Palsey, and other diseases affecting some of our children.
    As far as those who are upset about no cloning, wake up. Finding cures for diseases is one thing, playing God is another. Not even science can fully duplicate what God has created.

    March 9, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. rob

    Obama's action is part of a broader effort to separate science and politics and "restore scientific integrity in governmental decision-making," White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Sunday.

    Oh Yeah Melody, like Al Gore scaring us about "Man-made Global Warming" , We are being told the science is settled on this issue and if we don't pay trillions in new "Carbon Taxes" the world will end as we know it..

    The Dems never underestimate the ignorance of the american people.

    March 9, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. Paula

    If we look "backwards" in History, religion was against antibiotics (still is in some sects) and vaccines, saying it thwarted god's will.
    Humans are still very low on the evolutionary ladder, preferring superstition and divine providence!

    March 9, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Me

    THANK YOU President Obama!! Now let's hope the naysayers never need a medical advancement that has been derived from the use of stem cells. After all, they don't believe in it, right? Then let the rest of us have it and quit your whining...............

    March 9, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. Dave

    Christian hypocrisy is used to deny help to the most suffering of our society. Its a sick shame that "Christians" have fought stem cell research tooth and nail, even as their own loved ones suffered and died. There is no level of hypocrisy that is higher. To ride your white horse and look down your nose at the neediest of our people and deny them help. God will judge YOU one day. God is helping Obama stretch a caring hand out to help those in need. Now THAT is hope!

    March 9, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. wakeupamerica

    Finally! It is so very sad that 8 years of precious time was wasted in the Bush administration when advances in medical research and technology were not pursued. I applaud Obama's decision because it will help save countless lives of suffering people. It is sad to say that these embryos are considered medical waste and will be destroyed anyway. If some good can come out of them that helps support and diminish human suffering, then so be it. Abortion and politics are and will always be separate in my mind, even though the GOP makes you think abortion is the root of their politics. Abortion = a woman's choice, not a political decision.

    March 9, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. jm for sc


    Wake up!!! Wake up!!!! News Flash!!!!! We have not been a moral nation in many years. Remember, the hypocrit that place the restriction on stem cell research is the same one who authorized an illegal war killing thousands of people.

    People need to stop pick and choosing what is moral and what is not.

    You can be confident that President Obama will have limitation to reserve life when possible.

    March 9, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Just another American

    Anybody here realize that because of the "ban" research centers couldn't work on stem cell projects. Even on their own dime because it could effect government funding to the company on any other projects that they might be working on because of the "possibility of mingled money". Private sector money will flow for this now that is an accepted research project.

    March 9, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Cali Girl

    Thank God Science is legal again 😉

    March 9, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. jpg midwest

    Let the weak and sick die off. Only the healthy need to live and procreate. Can we make another earth to support all of the people who never die and yet accomodate all new life? I mean if we want to be God lets make another Earth and then all bets are off!!

    March 9, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Trish

    I'm just thrilled he didn't feel the need to spend a few hundred thousand dollars flying off to some city to sign this order. His desk finally got used. We're making progress. LOL

    March 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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