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« Strategy Memo: Political Science | Blog Home Page | House GOP Leaders Denounce Stem Cell Order »

Obama Invokes Faith During Stem Cell Announcement

President Obama used religious language as he made the case for his decision to lift a ban on federal funding for stem cell research. Calling himself a "person of faith," Obama said he believes we "are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering," and that this research could make that possible.

"I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research - and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly," Obama said at an East Room event this morning.

He acknowledged that "thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research." While Obama "respects their point of view," he sided with "the majority of Americans - from across the political spectrum and of all backgrounds and beliefs" who want to see federally funded research to go forward.

He did draw the line at human cloning, saying it is an abuse, "dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society." "We will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction," he said.

Obama also signed an order to ensure that scientists can do their work free of government interference.

"Promoting science isn't just about providing resources - it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those who are here today do their jobs free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient - especially when it's inconvenient," he said.

A number of lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- joined physicians, scientists and disabled individuals for the event. The Republicans on hand included Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate Republican from Delaware, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, a more conservative member from Utah, but one who supports research. Hatch has said he studied the issue for years, but came to the conclusion that it facilitates life.

Additional limits remain on research, but Obama signaled he'd let Congress play a role "to provide further support." Sen. Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter have sponsored legislation that would do so. Harkin, a Democrat, was on hand for today's event but Specter, a Republican, was not.