On March 9, President Obama signed an executive order lifting restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This is not surprising. It was a campaign promise. What is surprising is that, at the very time the federal government is throwing its full faith and credit behind experimentation on human embryos, science appears to have progressed away from embryonic stem cell research, leaving the government – and politicians – in the dust.
Whatever you thought about the Bush Administration’s limitations on funding for embryonic stem cell research, that policy decision had the effect of promoting scientific research on alternative and ethical sources for stem cells. It is likely that these avenues of research would not have been pursued if all available funds had been channeled into embryo research. These avenues have been among the most successful in developing the promised cures that embryonic stem cells have failed to even begin to achieve. The most notable ethical stem cell advancements have taken place on three fronts.