Morals are morals, no matter whose

Published 1:00 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stem cell research is one of those tricky social issues—much like abortion and gay marriage—that is difficult to offer an opinion about. Why? Because I’m not paralyzed, pregnant or gay.

So, as soon as someone like me has something to say about these subjects, those with an opposing view are quick to discredit ours: “You’ve never been in this situation, so you can’t say how you would feel.” That’s understandable, and that’s why I’m slow to speak my mind on the subjects.

But maybe the opinion of a single, straight and healthy male should be given more consideration instead of tossed aside simply because our logic is not clouded by the emotions attached with being personally close to a situation involving one of these much debated issues.

This column isn’t about morals or religion, though, only the logic used by President Barack Obama yesterday when he lifted restrictions on federally funded stem cell research. Obama, speaking to an audience in the White House’s East Room, said we need a new approach by government toward science to make sure scientific decisions “are based on facts, not ideology.”

“In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” Obama said. “In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent.”

Obama was, of course, talking about the policy of former president George W. Bush that banned federal funding for research into stem lines. A president doesn’t have to drive a wedge between science and religion as Bush surely did, but it is important to note that a lot of people in this country oppose stem cell research on moral and/or religious grounds even without a public official or pastor telling them they should. These people shouldn’t have to fund stem cell research. If Obama wants to donate some of his personal money, so be it. Maybe he could set up an Internet-based fundraising campaign. Fine. The government doesn’t have to ban stem cell research, only not support it financially.

But in the same speech, Obama promised our government would never allow the use of cloning for human reproduction. Why not? Probably because Obama and other like-minded officials are ideologically opposed to cloning, though there are surely many stem cell researchers that would love an endless and easily accessible supply of those cells.

But by allowing federal funding of stem cell research, Obama is telling us the faint hope of a helpful scientific discovery is more important than anyone’s moral convictions—unless you’re a Democrat. It can’t go both ways.