Obama says he believes strong moral guidelines important in science

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Saying he believes strong moral guidelines are important in the human life sciences, President Barack Obama said he would be happy to avoid ethical and political disputes if alternatives to embryonic stem-cell research turn out to be equally promising.

During his March 24 press conference, Obama was asked about his personal moral and ethical considerations about whether to allow federally funded research using embryonic stem cells. “I wrestle with these issues every day,” Obama told reporters.

He said he believes it’s important to have “strong moral guidelines, ethical guidelines when it comes to stem-cell research or anything that touches on … the human life sciences.” Obama said he thinks the guidelines in his March 9 executive order permitting federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research meet the test for strong ethical boundaries.

Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. bishops are among those who oppose embryonic stem-cell research, equating it with abortion because it destroys human embryos. The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, has criticized Obama’s decision to allow funding of such research, saying it “disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life.”

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