Judge Forces Obama Admin to Stop Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research
by Steven Ertelt
August 23, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge on Monday issued a decision forcing the Obama administration to stop funding embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds. The judge ruled the executive order Obama issued allowing such funding contravened a federal law prohibiting taxpayer funding of the destruction of human embryos.
U.S. district court Judge Royce Lamberth granted a preliminary injunction against the funding.
Judge Lamberth’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by stem cell researchers who said the Obama executive order and subsequent funding from the National Institutes of Health violated the Dickey amendment.
Judge Royce Lamberth noted that the imposition of an injunction required that those challenging the government’s funding demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits for their arguments. Apparently, they succeeded.
"(Embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed," Lamberth wrote in the 15-page ruling
The Court noted, "Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo," and concluded that funding such research violates existing law.
The Obama administration can try to appeal the decision granting the preliminary injunction or could try to rewrite the guidelines to comply with the law. With the initial decision in place, both sides will likely present arguments about whether the order should be permanently blocked.
Dr. Theresa Deisher, of AVM Biotechnology and Dr. James L. Sherley, a former MIT professor and scientist, are parties to the lawsuit because they say the Obama order sends funding for their adult stem cell research to scientists working with unproven embryonic stem cells.
"There is no after-the-fact remedy for this injury because the Court cannot compensate plaintiffs for their lost opportunity to receive funds," Lamberth wrote.
He said his order would not hurt embryonic stem cell researchers because they have the opportunity to find private funds.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council responded to the decision in a statement to LifeNews.com.
"Today’s ruling is a stinging rebuke to the Obama Administration and its attempt to circumvent sound science and federal law, which clearly prohibits federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. The Court recognized that since the law is unambiguous, so must be its ruling," he said.
"Embryonic stem cell research will not advance medical treatments or adult stem cell research, which is already benefiting thousands of patients for dozens of conditions," he said. "Embryonic stem cell research is irresponsible and scientifically unworthy."
The lawsuit, filed in August 2009, alleges that the guidelines governing destructive embryonic stem cell research implemented by the Obama administration in July are contrary to law, were promulgated without observing the procedures required by law."
The lawsuit says the guidelines violate the Dickey-Wicker appropriations provision regarding embryo research that prohibits federal funding of creating human embryos by any method, explicitly including human cloning, or any "research in which" human embryos are harmed in any way.
Thomas G. Hungar, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, which includes the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Medical Association, said in 2009 when the lawsuit was filed, "the language of the [Dickey-Wicker] statute is clear" that 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 told LifeNews.com at the time.
Sam Casey, General Counsel of Advocates International’s Law of Life Project, a public interest legal project involved in the case, pointed out that NIH officials have admitted they violated the public comment process by ignoring the majority of comments coming from pro-life advocates opposed to destroying unborn children for their stem cells.
"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," he said. "The so-called spare human embryos being stored in IVF clinics around the United States are not ‘in excess of need,’ as the NIH in its guidelines callously assert. They are human beings in need of biological or adoptive parents."
Embryonic stem cell research has yet to help a single patient, unlike adult stem cell research — which has helped patients with more than 100 diseases and medical conditions and which President Bush supported with hundreds of millions in federal funding.
The NIH rules say fertility clinics need only provide couples with the options available at that clinic, which likely do not include the possibility of adopting the human embryo to a couple wanting to allow the baby to grow to birth.
The guidelines also suggest that IVF doctors and human embryonic stem cell research scientists should be different people, but there is no requirement. That could result in the purposeful creation and destruction of human life rather than merely using "leftover" human embryos.
While the Obama-NIH guidelines prohibit NIH funds from funding cloning research they also re-state that the NIH can fund embryo-destructive research in spite of the Dickey-Wicker federal provision against funding research in which a human embryo is harmed.
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