(Update: President Obama has signed an executive order lifting federal restrictions on stem cell funding)
The Washington Post has a good primer on the politics of the stem cells, and the New York Times reports that President Obama will avoid issuing an opinion on the controversial question as to whether taxpayer funds should be used on direct experiments on embryos. Supporters on the left and critics on the right weigh in. Meanwhile, a blogger at the Times of London has released Obama's planned remarks before he delivers them, which include an executive order instructing the White House science office to set up new rules to restore "sound scientific practices across the administration":
promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.
Obama also apparently plans to mention Christopher Reeve in describing the stem cell decision, which lifts federal funding restrictions on stem cell research and instructs the National Institutes of Health to formulate guidelines within 4 months for using newly created lines:
Christopher once told a reporter who was interviewing him: “If you came back here in ten years, I expect that I’d walk to the door to greet you.”
Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day – maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s lifetime – but maybe one day, others like him might.