Obama Admin Appeals Ruling Stopping Tax-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 31, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Admin Appeals Ruling Stopping Tax-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 31
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration officially filed its appeal today of a federal judge’s decision striking down President Barack Obama’s executive order forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. The judge said the order contravened a federal law against funding 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, the federal law prohibiting funding the destruction of human embryos via research.

The appeal asks Judge Lamberth to put the injunction on hold so taxpayer dollars can continue to flow to embryonic stem cell research projects while the lawsuit against the order moves ahead.

The Obama administration claimed the judge’s order is harming research projects, even though embryonic stem cell research has yet to overcome numerous problems in animals and has never helped human patients.

"Numerous ongoing projects will likely not survive even a temporary gap in funds, jeopardizing both the potential benefit of the research and the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds already invested in it," the Obama administration said.

Judge Lamberth’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by two adult stem cell researchers who said the Obama executive order and subsequent funding from the National Institutes of Health violated the Dickey amendment.

The Obama administration, in its legal papers, claimed the scientists’ "remote economic self-interests do not outweigh the harm the injunction will cause NIH, the hundreds of affected human embryonic stem cell researchers, and the millions of individuals who hold out hope that human embryonic stem cell research will lead to the cure for, or treatment of, their currently incurable illnesses."

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.

The Justice Department asked Lamberth to rule by September 7 on its request to withdraw the injunction while the appeal continues.

In his ruling, 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.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, which awards the funds, said 143 scientific grants worth $95 million, which are now up for annual renewal, will be frozen. Another 22 grants totaling $54 million, whose existing research is coming up for renewal in September, will also be frozen.

And 131 grants awarded this year already are not affected but they will be if the funding is blocked when their renewal comes up.

Steven Aden, a lead attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the adult stem cell researchers who filed the case against the Obama administration, applauded the decision.

"The American people should not be forced to pay for experiments — prohibited by federal law — that destroy human life," he said. "The court is simply enforcing an existing law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos."

Groups that were a party to the lawsuit and pro-life organizations have applauded the decision.

A new poll found only 33% of U.S. voters believe that taxpayer money should be spent on embryonic stem cell research.

 

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