The Compromise of the Moment

Does anybody doubt that President Obama’s handling of the stem-cell issue is designed as a means of avoiding political heat while disregarding the beliefs of those who hold the culling of embryonic stem cells to be a form of murder? By placing determination of the “guidelines” for expanded funding under controle of the National Institutes of Health, he’s made them easily changeable and at a political distance. Coverage of the guidelines’ release is peppered with statements of “for now” (emphasis added):

“We think this will be a huge boost for the science,” said Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington. “This was the right policy for the agency at this point in time.”
The guidelines are “a reasonable compromise based on where the science stands now,” said Dr. Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology. “We may need to revisit some of the details down the road depending on how the science develops.” …
That’s in line with legislation passed by the last Congress but never signed by President George W. Bush. Besides, Kington noted, no one has yet created a stem cell line using cloning techniques.

It sounds as if moral questions are hardly in play at all. Policy, in that case, is precisely a match for the general political approach of liberal materialists: Take steps as they’re possible and pretend that there are still safeguards against leaps too far.

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