President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research Monday (March 9, 2009), pledging that his administration will "make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."
The decision angered abortion opponents, and while the president acknowledged their views, he sighted the potential treatments for many diseases. "The potential [stem cell research] offers is great," he said, "and with proper guidelines and strict oversight the perils can be avoided."
Shares of companies specializing in stem cell research skyrocketed after the announcement.
During his speech, Obama drew a strong line between stem cell research and cloning, ensuring that his administration "never opens the door" to cloning for human reproduction. "It is dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society or any society," he said.
Biography: Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British. Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.
Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.
Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph. D. studies and then returned to Kenya....