This could only happen in America. On Monday, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction essentially halting all stem cell research.
President Obama, soon after he was inaugurated, signed an executive order allowing all stem cell research overriding the previous limitations of President Bush that severely restricted the research. Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia called into question the legal basis of Obama's order allowing that all stem cell research be permitted.
The judges ruling apparently caught most people by surprise. It had been assumed, perhaps prematurely, that Obama's order had settled the issue in favor of no restrictions on the research. Now the issue is back on the table. Most Democrats in Congress, as well as some Republicans, favor stem cell research, while most Republicans, bowing to the wishes of their more conservative constituents, hailed the judges decision. Some Democrats responded that legislation in favor of the research could be enacted once Congress is back in session after the summer recess. It should be their first order of business on their return.
That stem cell research is even an issue is hard to fathom. The research goes to the heart of potentially discovering cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Diabetes and a host of other terrible diseases. That arch conservatives on the far right oppose stem cell research because it destroys the embryo of the stem cell and therefore is akin to abortion, would have all research return to the dark ages. These Neanderthals must not be allowed to prevail.
The overwhelming majority of Americans support stem cell research. That fact alone should tell Congress what they need to do.
But more significantly, the issue of stem cell research even being an issue highlights the essential split in this nation. This split contributes to why many issues remain unresolved in this country.
Take the issue of immigration and of course its thorny cousin illegal immigration. There are perhaps 20 million illegal immigrants in this country. Those on the right would deport them all, ignoring the fact that many of the children of these people were born in the U.S. automatically making them citizens (some conservatives have suggested amending the Constitution to deny automatic citizenship to the children of illegals). These right wingers oppose any path to allowing illegals to become U.S. citizens. They ignore the reality that it is impossible to deport all these people; that it is morally reprehensible to break up families particularly when the children are legally U.S. citizens; that the U.S. southern border can not be made air tight secure; that anti immigration laws such as what has been enacted in Arizona (subsequently found illegal as usurping federal authority) are discriminatory against all Latin Americans, including those who are here legally.
All attempts thus far to enact federal legislation that would provide a solution to the immigration crisis i.e. a path to citizenship for current illegals, beefed up and effective border security, issuing tamper proof identity cards and a data base available for all employers to easily access to determine the status of all prospective hires, holding all employers accountable when they intentionally ignore the law and hire illegals et.al, go unattended. The whole issue of immigration remains a festering sore and is a constant reminder that we as a nation are unable to come to grips with our basic divisions that effectively prevent the solving of critical problems. Do we dare go the issue of global warming and our part in creating it? Not according to the deniers of the phenomenon that scientists the world over agree is man made and needs to be dramatically reduced, lest we eventually not have enough oxygen to survive as a species.
Abe Lincoln once spoke of "A house divided can not stand", a condition that is apropos to our current state of affairs. We may not be on the verge of actual civil war in this country, but our basic divisions prevent us from solving many of the critical issues before us.
Let's hope that won't be the case with stem cell research.