Clueless in Washington

The AP is reporting that two days after he lifted President Bush's executive order banning federal funding of stem cell research on human embryos, President Obama signed a law that bans federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

What? You Say. He removes President Bush's Ban on federal funding of Stem Cell research and then signs a law that forbids federal funding of stem cell research. That doesn't make sense, how is this possible?

Well here is what happened folks. President Obama signed the omnibus appropriations bill into law on Wednesday not knowing that buried in the 465 page bill was what is know as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every year since 1996.

The amendment says, in part:

"None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for-(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

Found in Section 509 of Title V of the omnibus bill (at page 280 of the 465-page document), the federal funding ban not only prohibits the government from providing tax dollars to support research that kills or risks injury to a human embryo, it also mandates that the government use an all-inclusive definition of "human embryo" that encompasses any nascent human life from the moment that life comes into being, even if created in a laboratory through cloning, in vitro fertilization or any other means.

"For the purposes of this section," says the law, "the term 'human embryo or embryos' includes any organism that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells."

At a widely publicized White House ceremony on Monday, President Obama signed his own executive order lifting an executive order that President Bush had signed in 2001.

"For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions," said the order that President Obama signed Monday.

"The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind."

The order went on to say:

"The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law."

However, thanks to President Obama signing the omnibus appropriations bill on Wednesday, he unknowingly signed the Dickey-Wicker language in Section 509 of the omnibus bill into law as well, which will continue to forbid federal funding of research that even puts embryos at risk.

Which brings me to a couple of questions here, what happened to Obama's promise to wait and to not immediately sign into law, bills that came across his desk without reading them, and didn't he or someone on his staff read this bill before he signed it. Not that I'm complaining mind you because I supported President Bush's stand on this.

But can you just imagine what a field day the press would have had if this was Bush who had signed a bill that contradicted something he lifted. they would have been howling on how inept he is, etc.,etc..

Does Obama have a clue? It's certainly looks like he doesn't.

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