Stem Cell Showdown

By D. Sullivan

In a dramatic ruling, a federal district court judge has blocked the Obama administration’s new guidelines on embryonic stem cell research. Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a temporary injunction on August 23rd to prevent federal funding of embryo-destructive research, this in spite of an executive order by the president to permit this.

Judge Lamberth’s decision should not be surprising, for it is based on clear and unambiguous law. The Dicky-Wicker Amendment, passed in 1996 as part of a federal appropriations bill, has been passed again every year since. This amendment specifically prohibits the use of federal funds for:

(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human
embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death . . .

In March of last year, President Obama attempted to reverse long-standing policy from the Bush administration banning federal funding for embryo-destructive research through the National Institutes of Health. That decision has paved the way for billions of dollars in proposed embryonic stem cell projects, in spite of the Dicky-Wicker Amendment cited above.

Two researchers, in collaboration with pro-life groups, brought suit in federal district court. Their research on so-called adult stem cells is promising and not ethically controversial. They fear that the Obama guidelines may de-fund their work. In his ruling Judge Lamberth acknowledged that the researchers had standing to bring their suit forward, and granted the injunction.

The Obama administration is appealing the ruling. Stay tuned.

Source: CedarEthics, August 25, 2010.

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