With a great deal of fanfare, President Obama signed an executive order on stem cell research last week. The most controversial element of his new directive is a short, harmless-looking clause that you probably haven’t heard about. People on all sides of the stem cell controversy should call this particular decision what it is: A disgrace.
Last August—back when President Obama was still just Senator Obama—I wrote a column with a very similar title to this one, detailing a series of indefensible votes Obama cast as an Illinois state senator. At issue was the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, a piece of legislation designed to affirm the full human rights of babies who managed to survive abortions. In short, Obama voted repeatedly against the provision, and then offered a string of evolving, profoundly dishonest excuses for those votes. This episode worried pro-lifers, many of whom correctly concluded that despite his conciliatory rhetoric and overtures to voters on both sides of the issue, Obama would actually govern as the most pro-abortion president in history. They were right.
When Obama reversed the Bush-era policy on embryonic stem cell research funding on Monday, he was flanked by a bevy of smiling activists and legislators who burst into applause when he attached his signature to the order. Like many Americans, the group assembled at the White House seemed to genuinely believe Obama’s act would open research avenues that could help find a cure to devastating diseases. Who can blame them? For years, Democrats portrayed the previous policy as a triumph of narrow-minded religious dogma imposed by zealots who would rather see human suffering continue than surrender an inch on ideology.