Senator Promotes Bill to Force Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 13, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Promotes Bill to Force Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 13
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — With a federal judge having declared the executive order President Barack Obama issued to force taxpayers to finance embryonic stem cell research invalid, a Democratic senator is pushing legislation to overturn the federal law the judge said Obama’s mandate violated.

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

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

Judge Lamberth based his ruling on the fact that the Obama order violates the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a federal law that prohibits the federal government from paying for research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

Sen. Arlen Specter on Monday spoke on the Senate floor and said he has proposed legislation that would repeal the Dickey-Wicker law and therefore authorize the taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research — which requires the destruction of human embryos, unique human beings days after conception.

"There is great uncertainty in the research community as to what will happen," Specter said, according to an AP report, and said his bill would resolve it by overturning the law Lamberth used to temporarily put funding on hold.

Specter’s bill requires that the research qualifying for funding must involve the destruction of human embryos considered "leftovers" by infertility clinics — even though several adoption centers have sprung up that have allowed parents to adopt them and eventually give birth.

Reps. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, and Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican, promise to introduce similar legislation in the House and that chamber may vote on a bill as well.

Meanwhile, Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, has scheduled a hearing this Thursday on the issue of human embryonic stem cell experimentation in his Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

"The hearing was originally scheduled to counter a judge’s decision upholding current ethical guidelines on the experiments, Dickey-Wicker, that both President Bush’s and Obama’s administrations violated," say Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council.

"Now that a higher court has stayed that decision, meaning the unethical research can continue with taxpayer dollars, it is likely no other action will be taken until perhaps a lame duck session. It is still assumed the House will try to pass legislation overturning any reasonable guidelines," he added.

Whether lawmakers will try to push a bill to fund embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds is unclear.

They may either decide the time is right now to move the legislation while supporters still have the votes on Congress before a landslide election in which perhaps dozens of new pro-life members are expected to be elected.

Or, they may recognize that polling data shows a majority of Americans don’t want their tax dollars used to fund the destruction of human embryos in experiments that have never been tried in humans because of numerous problems associated with animals, such as causing tumors and immune system rejection issues.

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll finds 57 percent of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research.


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