Appeals Court Ignores Success of Adult Stem Cell Research

Opinion   |   David Prentice   |   May 1, 2011   |   7:44PM   |   Washington, DC

In a 2-1 decision, a federal Appeals Court has ruled that federal taxpayer funding can continue for human embryonic stem cell research.

The decision vacated a preliminary injunction that had been issued by Judge Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in August 2010; that preliminary injunction had been put on hold with a temporary stay last Fall. The split decision by the appeals panel to vacate the preliminary injunction was made after considering arguments from both sides, given in December 2010.

The opinion on the appeal as well as the dissenting opinion are available online.

Judge Lamberth has yet to issue a decision on the merits of the original lawsuit, so today’s decision by the appeals court is only one aspect of the overall case. And according to an updated story from Nature, attorneys for Drs. Sherley & Deisher are “considering asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider the preliminary injunction’s merits en banc, meaning that all 13 judges on the court would consider it.”

It is disappointing that the Appeals Court has decided to allow federal taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research in violation of federal law. As the dissenting opinion by Justice Henderson noted, the logic for the current decision is a case of ‘linguistic jujitsu’ rather than straightforward interpretation of the law. Human embryonic stem cell research relies on the destruction of young human embryos as experimental fodder.

In the meantime, thousands of patients are alive and have improved health after treatments using adult stem cells, including for spinal cord injury, heart damage, blindness, and dozens of other conditions. Federal taxpayer funds should go towards helping patients first, not unethical experiments. We believe that further court decisions will support Congressional protections of young human life and divert federal funds toward lifesaving adult stem cells.