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Reactions to Obama, stem cells

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
(Statements compiled by NBC's Mark Murray, Kelly O'Donnell, Bruce Carter and Naomi Karam)

The reactions to President Obama's signing of the executive order on stem-cell research were mostly predictable and falling along party lines. Democrats laud it; Republicans were critical. The one perpetual ironic standout, however, is Nancy Reagan, widow of the late Ronald Reagan -- the former president idolized and revered by the Republican Party.

FORMER FIRST LADY NANCY REAGAN: "I'm very grateful that President Obama has lifted the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. These new rules will now make it possible for scientists to move forward. I urge researchers to make use of the opportunities that are available to them, and to do all they can to fulfill the promise that stem cell research offers. Countless people, suffering from many different diseases, stand to benefit from the answers stem cell research can provide. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to do everything in our power to find cures for these diseases -- and soon. As I've said before, time is short, and life is precious.

SEN. TED KENNEDY: "Sometimes medicine advances through inspired discoveries in the laboratory, and sometimes through brilliant insights at the patient's bedside. But today, an extraordinary medical breakthrough was achieved with the stroke of a pen. With today's executive order, President Obama has righted an immense wrong done to the hopes of millions of patients. The President's action today unlocks the enormous potential of life-sustaining medical progress against a wide range of serious illnesses and injuries, all within strong ethical guidelines."

SEN. MAJ. LEADER HARRY REID: "President Obama today offered the hope of better treatments and cures to millions of Americans suffering from debilitating diseases. I applaud President Obama for restoring scientific integrity to government and ensuring we value science over ideology. President Obama's policy has strong support in the Senate, where in each of the past two Congresses we have passed bipartisan stem cell legislation. The President's executive order supports not only the position of Congress, but that of the majority of Americans and hundreds of leading medical and scientific associations and research universities, and dozens of patient-advocacy organizations representing millions of Americans. Since 2001, our most promising scientists have been forced to work with one hand tied behind their backs. Our nation's new stem cell policy will now help them in their quest to find lifesaving cures."

SEN. MIN. LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (says Obama's executive order "incentivizes creation and destruction of human embryos"): "The administration's announcement on embryonic stem cell research represents a troubling shift in U.S. policy. With this announcement, the government is, for the first time, incentivizing the creation and destruction of human embryos at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. I support biomedical research and I believe the administration would be far better served by directing taxpayer funds to research on non-embryonic stem cells, which is both effective and ethical."

HOUSE MIN. LEADER JOHN BOEHNER (says the "decision runs counter to his promise to 'be a president for all Americans"): "This decision runs counter to President Obama's promise to be a president for all Americans. For a third time in his young presidency, the President has rolled back important protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us. I fully support stem cell research, but I draw the line at taxpayer-funded research that requires the destruction of human embryos, and millions of Americans feel similarly. As we move forward, I am hopeful that the President will re-evaluate this and other controversial decisions that put government at odds with the sanctity of human life. Non-embryonic stem cell research is not only showing great promise in the laboratory, but its applications are already being used to treat scores of diseases and medical conditions. Indeed, science and respect for human life can coexist. Politicians in Washington would be well-served to recognize this fact before they ask taxpayers to subsidize the destruction of innocent human life simply to advance a particular agenda. Instead of asking taxpayers to pay for efforts that destroy life, Congress and the Administration should support bipartisan solutions like Rep. Randy Forbes' Patients First Act, which would promote stem cell research that is actually getting results."

*** UPDATE *** CA GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: "President Obama's executive order is a huge win for the millions of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis and many other illnesses. Californians were the first in the nation to support and fund embryonic stem cell research and we are big believers in the power of this revolutionary science to not only improve but to save lives. Because of the federal ban, Californians world-renown research facilities have had to have separate areas for the federally-funded and the non-federally funded programs, causing duplicative efforts. I applaud President Obama for removing this barrier which allows California to maximize critical research funding so we can continue to lead the world in stem cell research."