On Monday, President Barack Obama issued his Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum, which reversed an eight-year-old Bush administration policy that banned federal funding on embryonic stem-cell research.
Reaction among Louisiana politicians fell along partisan lines. Sen. David Vitter immediately issued a statement saying I'm saddened that President Obama has chosen to set aside the views of so many Americans and reversed these restrictions that were put in place to protect these valuable human embryos, especially when our most promising scientific potential has been seen in adult stem cell research. Gov. Bobby Jindal, who voted twice against expanding stem cell research during his tenure in the U.S. House, told the Associated Press he saw the issue as akin to abortion.
In 2004, Sen. Mary Landrieu had joined 42 other Democratic senators and 14 Republicans in signing a 2004 letter to then-president George W. Bush, urging him to reconsider the federal funding policy. This week, though, Landrieu made no public statement on the Obama signing, so The Gambit contacted her office for a reaction, which her communications director Stephanie Allen provided this morning:
I support the Presidents actions to move away from the restrictive policies of the past, but I strongly believe that NIH guidance and laws passed by Congress must still recognize the need for appropriate ethical and moral boundaries on embryonic stem cell research. That is why I have supported laws that would limit this research to excess embryos from fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded.
These types of safeguards are not only important to protecting our nations moral and ethical fiber, but also to maintaining the scientific communitys focus on adult stem cell research where there is also the potential to make great progress.