Stem Cell Case Dismissal Permits Research to Continue

U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth set a ruling on Wednesday that will allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to continue.

The case brought by two scientists, Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology and Dr. James Sherley of Boston Biomedical Research Institute, sought to stop federal tax money from being used for research on embryonic stem cells.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that a policy established by the Obama administration to increase federal funding for stem cell research violated a previously established law, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk or injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero."

Judge Lamberth dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday, ruling that allowing federal funding for research with stem cells created using private funds does not violate the Dicky-Wicker Amendment.

In August 2010, Lamberth issued an injunction that halted the federal funding on embryonic stem cell research. The Obama administration appealed the ruling, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the injunction and sent the case back to Lamberth for review.

Scientists who advocate for embryonic stem cell research are pleased with the ruling.

“We clearly think it’s the right decision. It will now lift the cloud that’s been hanging over researchers around the country,” Dr. Jonathan Thomas, chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, told the LA Times.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and an evangelical Christian, stated in an interview that he felt it was worth using embryos to benefit human health if they would be otherwise discarded after fertility treatments.

Embryonic stem cell research has been a long controversial issue due to the fact that it entails destroying embryos after stem cells have been extracted. Opponents say the act is immoral because it destroys a potential human life.

Sherley, an adult stem cell researcher, plans to file for appeal with support from the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that advocates for religious freedom.

“Americans should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments, and violate federal law,” said ADF senior counsel Steven H. Aden.

“The law is clear, and we intend to review all of our options for appeal of this decision,” he added. “In these tough economic times, it makes no sense for the federal government to use taxpayer money for this illegal and unethical purpose.”

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