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Mental Gymnastics: Obama’s schizophrenic bioethics

March 10, 2009
Yesterday President Obama took a bold step towards advancing “sound, scientific practice and evidence, instead of dogma.” As a result, our money will now be funding embryonic stem cell research.

Then a peculiar thing happened. After his endorsement of embryonic research, Obama had this to say about human cloning: “It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.”

I am trying to imagine the mental gymnastics required to harmonize these two positions, and I’m worn out already. If there is nothing sacred about the human embryo, why limit the cloning of it? Won’t we be missing out on the potential medical cures, and wealth of scientific knowledge that could have been gained by legalized cloning and experimentation. His condemnation¬†of cloning seems based, not on scientific reasoning, but moral–maybe even religious beliefs about right and wrong.

In light of Obama’s elusiveness on this issue in the past, I have to wonder who’s beliefs are guiding him. After all, just last year he claimed that answering the question of when life begins is above his pay grade. And since he opposed defining infants as “persons” even after they were born alive, it seems odd that he would now believe that embryos deserve any special protections against cloning.

Has the “religious right” finally gotten to him? If so, they have not done a very thorough job.

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