One of the first things President Obama did in 2009 was sign an executive order to allow full government funding of any and all embryonic stem cell research. At the time, newly elected Senator Jeanne Shaheen remarked of the event that…
Today, President Obama took a major step in restoring America’s role as a leader in science and medicine by lifting the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. For the millions of patients and families impacted by conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries, among many others, there is now greater hope for breakthrough treatments and even cures.
(Here is some YouTube of Shaheen on the floor of the Senate in 2009 [which always looks empty when she’s speaking…] advocating the effort and praising Obama.)
So how is that working out?
It is worth noting first that there was never a ban on Embryonic stem cell research. Government simply restricted use of taxpayer money on such research based on matters of conscience. Private money was and still is permitted to fund whatever stem cell research it finds most compelling.
Embryonic lines of research are just not that compelling and science is moving on.
A report on the funding in California and Maryland written by the Charlotte Lozier Institute – the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List – has found that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the state government of Maryland are funding far more adult stem cell research projects, while embryonic stem cell research has decreased nearly to nothing.
“Money talks,” said Charlotte Lozier Institute President Chuck Donovan. “Our new report shows a growing preference to fund ethical stem cell projects nationwide.”
In 2007, CIRM funded 100 embryonic stem cell research projects. In 2012, it was only six. Meanwhile, CIRM gave 15 grants to scientists conducting non-embryonic stem cell research.
In Maryland, 11 embryonic projects and four adult stem cell projects were funded in 2007. Five years later, 28 non-embryonic grants were made, but only one embryonic stem cell grants
It is also worth noting that there are still no embryonic stem cell therapies as a result of research that is mostly undertaken only because public money is provided for that purpose and most of their so-called successes have turned out to be anything but that.
There is still private money in it and private money can invest where it wants, but after “Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka showed that it was possible to create stem cell lines from skin cells without destroying embryos” the majority of private money has moved to adult stem cell research or is shifting to it, where the opportunity for actual treatments, and yes–profit, are more promising.
Jeanne Shaheen, who profits politically from NARAL (and the abortion lobby)- which supports taxpayer funded embryonic research–has been awfully quiet about this issue. Seeing how important this is to her family (her oldest goddaughter Elle has Type-I Diabetes), you’d think she’d be at the front of the line advocating for advances that are leading to actual treatments and proposing legislation to make it easier for this type of research to succeed.
But she is not.
What does that tell us?