Obama Administration Scurries to Fund Embryo Destruction After Court Ruling

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Administration Scurries to Fund Embryo Destruction After Court Ruling

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 10
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — An appeals court has overturned the temporary injunction a federal judge put in place stopping the Obama administration’s taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. With perhaps just days before the judge potentially issues a permanent injunction, Obama officials are scurrying to fund more research.

U.S. district court Judge Royce Lamberth granted a preliminary injunction against the funding, which Obama officials appealed.

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington put on hold that injunction while Judge Lamberth reviews the lawsuit itself.

Hours later, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins issued a statement saying NIH staff told scientists and research universities the Obama administration would move immediately to expedite requests for funds to get tax dollars in their hands for research and destruction of embryonic human beings before another ruling is issued.

"We are pleased with the Court’s interim ruling, which will allow this important, life-saving research to continue while we present further arguments to the Court in the weeks to come," Collins said.

According to the science publication Nature, Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, followed up Collins’ statement with an email to senior agency officials saying 24 existing grants for embryonic stem cell research due for an annual funding renewal this month should be fast-tracked and new grant requests should be approved immediately.

"Given the delay in their issuance, hESC awards should be given priority including non-competing continuations, and new and renewing competing awards," Rockey wrote, according to Nature.

With the appeal court potentially ruling again on September 20 an appeal of its decision from those bringing the lawsuit against Obama’s funding, Rockey reportedly told NIH institute councils expecting to issue funding after that date to move ahead now.

Nature also says her email directed those funding apparatuses considering early 2011 grants to move up the target date of issuing those.

After Judge Lamberth issued his injunction, NIH officials stopped new grants to outside scientists and also directed "intramural" scientists — those operating directly at NIH of embryonic research — to stop their work as well. There are currently eight projects taking place at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland using embryonic stem cells.

With the appeals court decision temporarily overturning the temporary injunction, Nature says Michael Gottesman, NIH’s Deputy Director for Intramural Research, gave NIH scientists the green light to resume research until September 20 using their own "prudence."

The NIH already came under fire earlier this month for issuing new guidelines after Judge Lamberth’s decision that made it appear they were telling scientists to ignore his order.

Although tens of millions in federal embryonic research grant funds have already been spent, the question after the temporary injunction was issued was whether scientists should be spending unused, previously-awarded federal grant money on current embryonic stem cell research projects.

Despite the law and the injunction, NIH issued new guidance for researchers who have already received federal funds for their embryonic stem cell projects saying they can essentially disregard the ruling.

According to the new NIH guidelines, grants that were funded prior to the August 23 decision and temporary injunction are "not affected" and "award recipients may continue to expend the funds awarded to them prior to the date of the injunction."

Steve Aden, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, one of the pro-life legal groups involved in the lawsuit filed against the executive order, told LifeNews.com at the time that he questioned the legality of the NIH guidelines.

"Federal grants incorporate federal law. To the extent that federal law has now been tentatively interpreted by a federal court to prohibit funding this research, I find the NIH’s position questionable," Aden said.


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