Judge Halts Stem Cell Research Funding

August 23, 2010

Science and health advocates rejoiced last year when President Obama issued an executive order repealing George W. Bush's policy limiting the use of federal funds for stem cell research.  President Obama's order allowed the National Institutes of Health to conduct and fund stem cell research. A federal district court judge's decision today may reverse this modest progress toward finding treatment for a multitude of diseases and disabilities.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District Court for the District of Columbia today granted a preliminary injunction to halt federal funding of stem cell research, ruling that such research contravenes the express will of Congress.

Lamberth ruled that all embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of embryos in violation of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment included in federal spending legislation:

The Dickey-Wicker Amendment unambiguously prohibits the use of federal funds for all research in which a human embryo is destroyed. It is not limited to prohibit federal funding of only the "piece of research" in which an embryo is destroyed. Thus, if ESC [embryonic stem cell] research is research in which an embryo is destroyed, the guidelines, by funding ESC research, violate the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.

Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of an embryo, typically four or five days old, to remove "stem cells" that have the potential to develop into any cell in the body. Conservatives have objected that the destruction of human embryos is murder, as it ends what is purported to be a human life.

A Justice Department spokesperson indicated that the Department is reviewing the decision.


#1 A Merrick (Guest) on Monday August 23, 2010 at 9:58pm

If it is a HUMAN embryo and it,through removal of its stem cells, is destroyed then is not the HUMAN destoyed that is to develop from that embryo?

We are not speaking of any other life form than HUMAN are we in the process of stem cell research that takes the stem cells from HUMAN embryos are we?

If the necessary elements to continue life are removed then life is not possible and death is the result, right?

#2 martini mike (Guest) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 at 9:07am

A Merrick,
if the fertilized egg was not in a uterus, it is not going to develop into the later stages of a “HUMAN” fetus for nine months of gestation, let alone be born as a “HUMAN” being so obviously, neither is a “HUMAN” going to be “destoyed” nor could such a fertilized egg ever BECOME a “HUMAN”.

#3 Michael De Dora on Tuesday August 24, 2010 at 9:33am

Derek, how might we see the end of this amendment? I imagine it could be overturned by Congress, or a court ruling that it is based solely on religious objections. What are the chances of either of those? And are there other ways?

#4 Michael De Dora on Tuesday August 24, 2010 at 9:59am

Interesting breakdown of the ruling at TPM:


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