Commentary: Obama's rational approach to stem cell research

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

President Barack Obama reversed the Bush administration's funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research Monday, a move that should advance this field of medical science after eight years of misguided policy.

Bush was the first president to allow scientists to study human embryonic stem cells with federal funding. But because of his moral objections to scientific use of human embryos, he only allowed funding for research using existing lines of embryonic stem cells.

Bush's policy hampered science on several levels. The stem cell lines in existence in 2001 proved to be inadequate for scientists to conduct the full range of research they needed to pursue. That's one reason California voters in 2004 passed Proposition 71, which authorized $3 billion in bonds for various forms of stem cell research.

Even with Proposition 71, stem cell scientists receiving both federal and outside funding had to create separate labs, with duplicate sets of equipment, to conduct certain research. Otherwise, microscopes purchased with federal dollars might be used on projects that were subject to Bush's funding prohibitions.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.

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