A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a President Barack Obama administration policy that authorized funding for additional research projects that destroy human embryos despite the Dickey/Wicker Amendment specifically prohibiting such funding.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court decision throwing out a lawsuit against the funding, which President George W. Bush stopped and Obama resumed soon after taking office.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden issued a statement expressing disappointment in the ruling that upheld the use of taxpayer funds for human embryonic stem cell research. "Americans should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments, and violate federal law," he said.
Aden also said the law's clear intent had been utterly ignored. "Congress designed that law so that Americans don't pay any more precious taxpayer dollars for needless research made irrelevant by adult stem cell and other research. In the current economic climate, it makes even less sense for the Obama administration to use taxpayer money for this illegal and unethical purpose."
The lawsuit argued that Obama's executive order violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing of scientific research resulting in the destruction of human embryos.
The Associated Press quoted Chief Judge David B. Sentelle, part of the three-judge appeals court panel, as saying, "Dickey-Wicker permits federal funding of research projects that utilize already-derived" embryonic stem cells because no "human embryo or embryos are destroyed" in such projects. "Therefore, unless they have established some `extraordinary circumstance,' the law of the case is established and we will not revisit the issue."
In August 2010, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the executive order likely violated the Dickey-Wicker law. But in April 2011, a federal appeals court ruled Obama can use taxpayers' money to fund embryonic stem cell research.
"Embryonic stem cell research relies on the destruction of young human embryos, and that destruction is integral to the research," LifeNews quoted Dr. David Prentice, Family Research Council's Senior Fellow for Life Sciences, as saying.
"There would be no embryonic stem cells available for federal funding without first harming and destroying a young human embryo, an act that is prohibited by the Dickey-Wicker language which is passed annually," Prentice added. "A plain reading of Dickey-Wicker would eliminate all taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research. Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is a tragic waste of lives as well as taxpayer money, since despite the promises made to gain the federal funding, there is not a single example of a successful treatment. Only adult stem cells have successfully treated any patient, now helping thousands of people for dozens of conditions."
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement that his department will now "continue to move forward, conducting and funding research in this very promising area of science." The ruling, he said, "affirms our commitment to the patients afflicted by diseases that may one day be treatable using the results of this research."
Human embryonic stem cell research, with the present state of technology, involves the creation of a human embryonic stem cell line, which requires the destruction of a human embryo, and raises concerns over the rights and status of the embryo as an early-aged human life.