Obama may reverse Bush policies on stem cells, drilling, birth control

POLITICS - President-elect Barack Obama could reverse some of President Bush's most controversial executive orders, including restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, shortly after taking office on January 20th 2009.

Two other executive orders from George W. Bush, one dealing with a "gag order" on international aid organizations regarding birth control pills, condom usage and abortion and the other with oil and gas drilling on federal lands are also are receiving increased scrutiny.


New presidents often use executive orders to put their stamp on Washington quickly. Unlike laws, which require months to complete and the consent of Congress, presidents can use their executive authority to order federal agencies to quickly implement new policies (or reverse old ones). Obama's transition team is reviewing hundreds of Bush's executive orders.

Stem Cell Research

Obama is expected to use his executive authority to reverse Bush's order limiting the types of embryonic stem cell research that can receive federal tax dollars. Health advocates for those suffering from a host of diseases (including diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries) are eagerly awaiting the Bush-era restrictions to be lifted.

In August 2001, Bush barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells other than that using 60 cell lines existing when he signed the executive order.

Researchers say the ban has limited their progress and want the opportunity to create new stem cells from human embryos. On his campaign website, Obama said he supports the creation of new stem cells from embryos created for in vitro fertilization treatments that would otherwise be discarded.

NOTE: Approx. half of the world's facilities capable of doing stem cell research are in the United States. Allowing the USA to participate in stem cell research will effectively double the speed at which people can discover new cures for various diseases.

Planned Pregnancy

Other controversial Bush measures Obama is expected to overturn are related to abortion and family planning. United States family planning groups such as Planned Parenthood said they expect Obama to overturn the "Mexico City" policy, first instituted by the Reagan administration. The policy prevents taxpayer dollars from funding groups that promote planned pregnancy and pro-choice.

President Clinton dropped the order, but Bush re-implemented it and expanded the policy to ensure State Department funding does not go to family planning organizations that give advice about condoms, birth control pills, abstinence and abortion.


Obama's administration also could overturn the Bush administration policy of banning funding to organizations such as the U.N. Population Fund that operate in countries like China that have overpopulation problems and adheres to the "one child" policy.

Oil Drilling in National Parks

Obama's team is also reviewing Bush's order that lifted restrictions on oil drilling on fragile federal lands in Utah. Environmental groups decried Bush's decision when he opened the lands to oil exploration.

Guantanamo Bay

One set of executive orders that may take longer to overturn pertains to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. Obama has said he wants to close the prison, but will have to make decisions about what to do with the prison's 255 inmates.

Reversing Bush's executive orders would be an immediate way for Obama to show that a new era has begun in Washington.

1 comment:

Pete Murphy said...

Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. I'm not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news - growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, soaring commodity prices, environmental degradation, etc. I'm talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America.

I should introduce myself. I am the author of a book titled "Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America." To make a long story short, my theory is that, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

This theory has huge implications for U.S. policy toward population management. Our policies that encourage high rates of population growth are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well-served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy.

But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.

The U.N. ranks the U.S. with eight other countries - India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia and China - as accounting for fully half of the world’s population growth by 2050. The U.S. is the only developed country still experiencing third world-like population growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at OpenWindowPublishingCo.com where you can read the preface, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It's also available at Amazon.com.)

Please forgive the somewhat spammish nature of the previous paragraph. I just don't know how else to inject this new perspective into the overpopulation debate without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

Pete Murphy
Author, "Five Short Blasts"

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