Obama on the Record: News Conference on the Economy

THE PRESIDENT: I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy. And that’s — affects black, brown and white. And, you know, obviously at the inauguration I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country. But that lasted about a day — (laughter) — and, you know, right now the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged, and that is are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe. And that’s what I’ve been spending my time thinking about.

Jon Ward, Washington Times. Where’s Jon?

Q Right here, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: There you go.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Sure.

Q In your remarks on stem cell research earlier this month, you talked about a majority consensus in determining whether or not this is the right thing to do, to federally fund embryonic stem cell research. I’m just wondering, though, how much you, personally, wrestled with the morality or ethics of federally funding this kind of research, especially given the fact that science so far has shown a lot of progress with adult stem cells, but not a lot with embryonic.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. I think it’s a legitimate question. I wrestle with these issues every day, as I mentioned to — I think in an interview a couple of days ago. By the time an issue reaches my desk, it’s a hard issue. If it was an easy issue, somebody else would have solved it and it wouldn’t have reached me.

Look, I believe that it is very important for us to have strong moral guidelines, ethical guidelines when it comes to stem cell research or anything that touches on, you know, the issues of possible cloning or issues related to, you know, the human life sciences. I think those issues are all critical, and I’ve said so before. I wrestle with it on stem cell, I wrestle with it on issues like abortion.

I think that the guidelines that we provided meet that ethical test. What we have said is that for embryos that are typically about to be discarded, for us to be able to use those in order to find cures for Parkinson’s or for Alzheimer’s or, you know, all sorts of other debilitating diseases — juvenile diabetes — that it is the right thing to do. And that’s not just my opinion; that is the opinion of a number of people who are also against abortion.

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