Court Reinstates Lawsuit Against Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Reinstates Lawsuit Against Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 28
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A federal appeals court has reinstate the lawsuit a collection of pro-life groups have filed against the Obama administration for forcing taxpayers to finance embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of human life.

The organizations were successful in getting the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals to reinstate their case against the Health and Human Services Department.

The suit is a response to President Barack Obama’s decision last year to overturn the protections the Bush administration put in place preventing funding of research that involves the destruction of human life.

The court’s decision found that doctors doing adult stem cell research have "competitive standing" to sue to preliminarily enjoin and ultimately overturn the controversial guidelines for public funding of embryonic stem cell research that the National Institutes of Health issued in July 2009 to implement Obama’s executive order forcing the funding.

The implementation of these guidelines marks the first time that taxpayer dollars have been used to fund research that will result in the destruction of human embryos. Since 1994, Congress has expressly banned NIH from funding research in which human embryos “are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

Thomas G. Hungar, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, told in a statement that “the language of the statute is clear. It bans public funding for any research that leads to the destruction of human embryos."

"NIH’s attempt to avoid Congress’s command by funding everything but the act of ‘harvesting’ is pure sophistry. The guidelines will result in the destruction of human embryos and are unlawful, unethical, and unnecessary," he said.

The plaintiffs contend the NIH guidelines violate the congressional ban because they “necessarily condition funding on the destruction of human embryos.”

In addition, the plaintiffs also allege that the NIH guidelines were invalidly implemented, because the decision to fund human embryonic stem cell research was made without the proper procedures required by law and without properly considering the more effective and less ethically problematic forms of adult and induced pluripotent stem cell research.

One of the expert stem cell researcher plaintiffs, Dr. James L. Sherley, formerly of MIT, explained that “the great irony of the guidelines is that research involving stem cells safely derived from human adults and other sources presents the same if not greater potential for medical

Dr. David Stevens, Executive Director of Christian Medical Association, an organization of more than 16,000 doctors who are also plaintiffs in the case, applauded the court’s decision.

He said “we are opposed to this proposed illegal and unethical federal
funding of destructive embryonic research that would compel every American to cooperate with such unlawful human experimentation and the violation of our fundamental medical research ethic never to lethally experiment on one human being simply to benefit the interests of other human beings.”

And Sam Casey, a co-counsel in the case, added, “The majority of the
almost 50,000 comments that the NIH received were opposed to funding this research, and by its own admission, NIH totally ignored these comments."

The lawsuit makes the case that the Obama order to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a federal law that prohibits federal funding of scientific studies that destroy human life.

Specifically, the 1995 law stops tax-funding of "(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."

The lawsuit also alleges that the NIH violated administrative rules when it wrote the guidelines for implementing Obama’s decision after allowing only 34 days of public comment — instead of the customary 60 days — and publicly admitted ignoring 30,000 of the 49,000 public comments from people who opposed the funding.

Nightlight Christian Adoptions, which has helped facilitate adoptions of frozen embryos who are implanted and a pregnancy carried to term, is also involved in the lawsuit.

The Alliance Defense Fund and the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher are also helping the clients involved in the lawsuits.


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