Given everything we know about Obama, his beliefs and his policies, and especially his pledge to “return science to its rightful place”, this item would seem puzzling:
President Barack Obama says human cloning is “dangerous, profoundly wrong” and has no place in society. Obama made the comments as he was signing an executive order that will allow federal spending on embryonic stem cell research.
Some critics say the research can lead to human cloning. Obama said the government will develop strict guidelines for the research because misuse or abuse is unacceptable. He said he would ensure that the government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction.
From whence springs this seemingly moral impulse and Obama’s apparent certitude about it? How does he draw the conclusion that human cloning is “profoundly wrong” and that embryonic stem cell research is profoundly right? (Never mind the failure, so far, to demonstrate, moral considerations aside, the efficacy – much less the safety – of either one.)
One can only guess that he is operating from a gut sense of what is popular and acceptable at the moment (and what might draw some conservatives temporarily off-center with a brief, if unwarranted sigh of relief). Because the policy ‘slice’ between the two issues doesn’t stem from any religious text or tradition I know of.
(Never mind that terms like ‘misuse’ and ‘abuse’ presuppose a clear and firmly grounded moral framework describing what constitutes proper use.)
One wonders also how he can say, with such profound confidence, that government will never open that door. Many things once thought by society and/or government to be “profoundly wrong” are now well accepted by both — though the wrongness of them in the eternal, Biblical, divine sense, has not changed one iota.
Furthermore, how does he explain these things in light of what many thought to have been an absolute statement to put science back in its place? What place is that, exactly? If the ESCR crowd is consistent in claiming a scientific basis for their position, they should be clamoring for human cloning.
Since their position was never scientifically based in the first place however (some adult stem cell therapies have proven effective whereas no embryonic ones have and some have proven quite dangerous) their position is revealed for what it is: anti-life.
In that may lie the key here. I.e., an anti-life worldview neatly answers the otherwise perplexing question: what do ESCR and a ban on human cloning have in common?
Human lines in the sand can seem firm… until the wind blows them away.
UPDATE: I just noticed this in the WaPo coverage:
“President Obama lifted restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research this morning and issued a presidential memorandum aimed at insulating scientific decisions across the federal government from political influence.”
Except his, of course. Everyone else is political. I’m visionary.