Attorneys in Embryonic Stem Cell Research Case Applaud Judge’s Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 8, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Attorneys in Embryonic Stem Cell Research Case Applaud Judge’s Decision

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 8
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The attorneys for the scientists who are challenging the executive order President Barack Obama issued forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research are applauding a judge’s decision yesterday to deny the Obama administration’s request to delay his injunction.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth yesterday rejected the Obama administration’s motion that he reconsider his ruling putting a temporary injunction in place against the funding while the lawsuit the scientists filed proceeds.

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.

Advocates International and the Alliance Defense Fund are teaming up to help two adult stem cell scientists who brought the lawsuit.

Samuel Casey, the general counsel for AI said that, while he is not surprised by Judge Lamberth’s decision keeping the injunction in place, "we are glad that the court, in its order denying the government’s stay request, held that the government is ‘incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result from [the] Court’s preliminary injunction.’"

"This is precisely what we explained to the court," he said.

Thomas Hungar, lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs who argued the case before the Court of Appeals and before Judge Lamberth, also commented in a statement to today.

"We are gratified by the Court’s conclusion that any further funding of human embryonic stem cell research under the NIH guidelines would ‘flout the will of Congress,’" he said. "As the Court recognized, ‘the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of [such] research,’ so that taxpayer funds can be preserved for more productive research that will actually yield cures, such as ‘activities related solely to adult or induced pluripotent stem cell research.’"

Judge Lambeth said the length of time the injunction would stay in place is limited because the scientists have filed a request for summary judgement and permanent injunction.

He could rule as early as Friday on that request and it appears from the comments he’s made in his two decisions already that he will likely agree to permanently stop the embryonic stem cell research funding and force the Obama administration to take it s case to a federal appeals court.

In his decision yesterday, the federal judge said, “A stay would flout the will of Congress, as this court understands what Congress has enacted in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. 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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