NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Southern Baptist ethics leader Richard Land decried President Barack Obama’s March 9 executive order overturning the prohibition on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR).
Obama’s order rescinded the policy instituted by President George W. Bush in 2001. The Bush policy barred federal funds for stem cell research that results in the destruction of human embryos. Obama instructed the National Institutes of Health to issue guidelines on ESCR and other forms of stem cell research within 120 days. In his speech before signing the executive order, the President urged Congress to provide more support for ESCR.
“This is a sad day for the sanctity of all human life in America,” Land said. “President Obama, in rescinding President Bush’s order of August 2001, which banned federal funding of research that causes the destruction of human embryos, has declared open season on unborn babies, allowing them to be destroyed for the sole purpose of harvesting their fetal tissue in the hopes of discovering treatments for maladies and diseases affecting older and bigger human beings. President Obama’s action could swiftly lead to the potential destruction of several hundred thousand unborn human beings who currently exist as frozen embryos in storage facilities across the country.
“President Obama’s authorization of federal funding of this research has the double effect of greatly increasing the number of babies killed and requiring tens of millions of Americans who find such research morally reprehensible to be forced to subsidize it through the use of their tax dollars.
“With consent from their biological parents, these frozen embryos will be taken and killed for their fetal tissue. This will be done despite the fact hundreds of frozen embryos have been adopted and successfully born as healthy children. Most experts believe this supply of embryos will soon be exhausted by federally funded research demands, and this will build pressure to allow embryos to be created by cloning for the sole purpose of harvesting their fetal tissue before they reach 14 days’ gestation.
“The so-called ‘clone-to-kill bill’ (sometimes known as the Kennedy-Feinstein-Harkin-Specter bill) would legalize cloning for fetal tissue research purposes. President Obama made a chilling allusion to this when he said the guidelines ‘will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction,’ which of course, leaves open the specter of legalizing cloning for supplies of fetal tissue purposes.
“All of this is made even more tragic and reprehensible by the fact that very recent medical advances in securing fetal tissue that do not require the destruction of embryos have just been confirmed by further scientific testing.
“Many supporters of the President’s decision have erroneously hailed this as removing politics and ideology from science. In fact, it is an attempt to remove morality from scientific research. History, from the Third Reich and elsewhere, teaches us that such a shift is a steep and slippery slope to a dark, depraved and dangerous destination.”
_The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.2 million members in about 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C._