May 28, 2024

Obama’s inauguration bioethics

What about stem cells and abortion?

President Barack Obama’s inauguration
speech has been examined syllable by syllable to discern the policies
of his administration. Its rhetoric is noble and soaring, its rhythms
Biblical, its references inspiring. But of references to stem cell
research or abortion, the two most controversial bioethics issues in
his campaign, not a word.

The closest he came was a clear hint
that he will esteem science and scientists: “We will restore
science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to
raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the
sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our
factories.” None of these, especially the notion of lowering the
cost of health care, seems to apply to stem cell research. Inasmuch
as drawing Americans together was a major theme of the
eagerly-awaited inaugural speech, he may have wished to skip over the
divisive issue of abortion.

Most American scientists are confident
that the Obama years will be friendly to science. "My
administration will value science. We will make decisions based on
the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action,"
Obama said at the nomination of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven
Chu, a climate-change technology advocate, as the next secretary of

Not everyone views the Bush years with
disdain. The former president’s science adviser, John
H. Marburger III, told USA
: "When you consider the real behavior, as opposed to
the symbols, the past eight years have been good for science."
He points out that the budget of the National Institutes of Health
doubled to about $28 billion in 2004.