By Robert Wallace
With the emerging controversy over President Barack Obama’s scheduled commencement address at renowned Catholic university Notre Dame, specifically complaints from students and bishops alike as to what could be perceived as the school’s tacit endorsement of an openly pro-Abortion president, conversations have once again turned to life and death in the wombs of America.
Abortion is one of the most contentious political issues in the United States. As a result of the highly charged emotional atmosphere of the debate, you can find extremists on both sides of the issue — from those who want to bomb abortion clinics to those who think infanticide should be legal up until several months after birth. So when I say that President Barack Obama stands out as the most extreme politician on life issues to ever hold national office I want that to sink in.
Even in an argument defined by controversy, he’s playing in a league of his own.
Those who followed Obama’s presidential campaign may think that I’m referring to his vote against the so-called Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (the federal or Illinois state version). And while it is true that his opposition to that bill amounted to support for infanticide and that he essentially lied to cover up his extremism, it turns out that President Obama intends to outdo Senator Obama with regard to matters of life.
During the press conference in which he announced his executive order to remove former President George W. Bush’s limits on embryonic stem cell research, Obama made these remarks:
“I am glad to see progress is being made in adult stem cells,” the president said. “And if the science determines that we can completely avoid a set of ethical questions or political disputes, then that’s great. I have — I have no investment in causing controversy. I’m happy to avoid it if that’s where the science leads us. But what I don’t want to do is predetermine this based on a very rigid ideological approach. And that’s what I think is reflected in the executive order that I signed.”
Noted commentator Charles Krauthammer (who is pro-choice, favors embryonic stem cell research, and by some accounts was invited to the ceremony by the White House) has already obliterated Obama’s frail pretext of ethical moderation and sophistication in a commentary piece entitled “Obama’s ‘Science’ Fiction”:
That part of the ceremony, watched from the safe distance of my office, made me uneasy. The other part — the ostentatious issuance of a memorandum on “restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making” — would have made me walk out.
Restoring? The implication, of course, is that while Obama is guided solely by science, Bush was driven by dogma, ideology and politics.
What an outrage. Bush’s nationally televised stem cell speech was the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president. It was so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his view and the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would come out.
Obama’s address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the “false choice between sound science and moral values.” Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the “use of cloning for human reproduction.”
For all of Krauthammer’s justified outrage, it’s not enough. (And I remind you, Krauthammer is pro-choice and favors embryonic stem cell research and even he finds Obama’s position to be abominable). He misses two key points. First of all, Obama did not ban cloning. His only requirement is that after you clone a human being you make sure to kill it before it develops beyond a certain point. Secondly–and more importantly–his pretext of allowing science to speak for itself was shattered by a subsequent executive order in which he overturned President Bush’s funding for alternatives to embryonic stem cell research.
The inventor of embryonic stem cell research–Dr. James Thomson–wrote that “if human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.” He then dedicated his research into efforts to find methods of deriving stem cells without destroying embryos. These methods–including altered nuclear transfer, regression–work with adult stem cells to induce them to behave more like embryonic stem cells, and the results have been promising. In fact, far more progress has been made in treating diseases with adult stem cells than with embryonic stem cells. The federal restriction on funding does not explain these results — it is due to the nature of embryonic versus other forms of stem cells.
This is textbook Obama. He calls a big conference and gives a condescending lecture in which he characterizes his opponents as ideologues and himself as the pragmatic voice of reason. Then, when the cameras are turned off, he hypocritically reneges on his own commitments and proves himself to be more ideological than even his straw man caricatures of his opponents!
On top of being hypocritical, there is no other word to describe Obama’s executive order other than “anti-life.” Why else would you not only open up funding for embryonic stem cells, but also discourage other forms of research that are even more promising?
Intelligent people can disagree about embryonic stem cell research. There is room for debate — as I would certainly debate Charles Krauthammer. But Obama’s position is beyond anything resembling reasonable. He wants unfettered scientific access to discarded and cloned human embryos with no restrictions at all, and yet he overturns federal funding for promising lines of research that could bring about cures without destroying human lives and without political controversy.
There’s no room for debate between intelligent people on that policy. It is indefensible.
Robert Wallace has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.