Judge Won’t Let Obama Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research During Lawsuit

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 7, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judge Won’t Let Obama Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research During Lawsuit

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 7
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge has denied a request by the Obama administration to allow it to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research while it defends President Barack Obama’s executive order from a lawsuit alleging it violates federal law.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth today rejected the Obama administration’s motion that he reconsider his ruling putting a temporary injunction in place against the funding.

The Justice Department argued Lamberth’s injunction is causing irreparable damage to the efforts of embryonic stem cell research, even though the science is nowhere close to helping human patients because of a plethora of problems when tested in animals.

"Defendants are incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result from this Court’s preliminary injunction," Lamberth wrote.

“A stay would flout the will of Congress, as this court understands what Congress has enacted in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment,” Lamberth wrote today. “"Congress has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos. Congress remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute. This court is not free to do so.”

Lamberth also clarified a question that developed following his initial decision and said it did not apply to the funding authorized under the Bush administration because President George W. Bush did not allow funding of new projects that would involve the further destruction of human life.

The only way to obtain embryonic stem cells is to destroy a human embryo — a unique human being after conception.

Lamberth said the ruling he put in place did not apply to research that had previously been "awarded and funded," making it appear that it would not apply to funds researchers already have from the NIH.

Judge Lamberth’s initial 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.

Obama officials appealed Judge Lamberth’s decision and asked 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.

Dr. James L. Sherley, a former member of the MIT faculty now currently working as a senior scientist at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Dr. Theresa Deisher, the founder of AVM Biotechnology were the two scientists behind the lawsuit. They opposed the appeal.

Since 1996, in what has been popularly known as its Dickey-Wicker Amendment to each HHS Appropriations Bill, Congress has expressly banned NIH from funding research in which human embryos "are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

Embryonic stem cell funding advocates are looking to overturn the law as soon as this month.


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