Thursday September 2, 2010
Obama Justice Dept Seeks Stay of Order Nixing NIH Embryonic Stem Cell Funding
By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 2, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) The U.S. Justice Department is requesting a federal judge stay his order stopping the National Institute of Healths embryo-destroying stem-cell research pending an appeal, saying that cutting off the money to scientists would harm their research efforts.
Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled last week that embryonic stem cell research projects funded by the NIH violate the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which prohibits federal dollars from going to research that destroys human embryos.
Congress attempted to pass a bill permitting funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research in 2007, but that legislation was vetoed by President George W. Bush.
The issuance of a stay is necessary to prevent the irreparable harm that is certain to occur if
NIH is forced to cease all activities pertaining to [hESC] research that is subject to government funding, stated the Justice Department's emergency motion filed Tuesday.
Written testimony from NIH head Dr. Francis Collins stated that $546 million dollars had been invested by the NIH in hESC research since 2002, and that $54 million to 24 research projects will be prevented by Lamberths order. Collins said that the injunction would mean the whole effort since 2002 will have been wasted by stopping experiments and research prematurely.
In March 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order rescinding President Bushs executive order that limited federal funds to hESC lines already in existence, giving the green light to finance the creation of new hESC lines and trials.
Two scientists involved in adult stem cell research, Drs. James Sherley of Boston and Theresa Deisher of Seattle, sued the Obama Administration on the basis that the NIH was favoring hESC researchers, starving ethical researchers such as themselves for grants.
"We have a responsibility and are taught to do ethical research," Sherley told The Wall Street Journal. "This is impacting the quality of science in this country."
Critics have pointed out that, aside from destroying human lives at a very early stage of development, hESC research has yielded little therapeutic benefit. It has been outstripped by breakthroughs in adult stem cell research, which has yielded dozens of therapies and benefits for previously untreatable conditions.
Judge Lamberth struck down the Obama policy on August 23, saying it conflicted with "unambiguous" US statute.
If one step
of an ESC [embryonic stem cell] research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding by the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Lamberths preliminary injunction order stated. Because ESC research requires the derivation of ESCs, ESC research is research in which an embryo is destroyed."
The Obama Administration is appealing the decision, and said that a stay should not be denied for the benefit of two scientists whose only alleged harm is increased competition from other meritorious research projects that may ultimately save lives.
As a result of the injunction, NIH has cut off funding to its eight intra-mural hESC research projects.
NIH officials say extramural projects by researchers outside NIH may keep grant money already appropriated to them, but they will have no additional funds pending the injunction. The NIH has also suspended all applications to hESC researchers requesting funding. (see order here)
We think its a start, Steven Aden, Senior Legal Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, told LifeSiteNews.com in a telephone interview.
ADF is co-counsel in the lawsuit, Dr. James L. Sherley et. al. v. Kathleen Sebelius et al., along with Samuel Casey of Advocates International. Aden told LSN that the legal advocacy group intends to file opposition papers with Lamberths court on Friday responding to the Justice Departments request for a stay.
Aden said that the original intent as expressed by Congressman Dickey and others was to prohibit all research involved in the destruction of human life.
We believe that is what the Dickey Wicker amendment means today.
As the case goes forward, we expect Judge Lambert to clarify the meaning and scope of the injunction, said Aden.
Aden predicted that Lamberth should rule fairly quickly, and then the matter would head to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which could render its own ruling within weeks.
Click here for more information on stem cell research.
See previous and related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Congressmen Seek to Undermine Embryonic Stem Cell Ruling by Changing Law
U.S. Court Halts Obama Admin Stem-Cell Research Guidelines
Adult Stem Cell Treatment Leaves College Student Free of Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
"Embryos are Humans" Says U.S. Government Report on Stem Cell Research
Copyright © LifeSiteNews.com. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License. You may republish this article or portions of it without request provided the content is not altered and it is clearly attributed to "LifeSiteNews.com". Any website publishing of complete or large portions of original LifeSiteNews articles MUST additionally include a live link to www.LifeSiteNews.com. The link is not required for excerpts. Republishing of articles on LifeSiteNews.com from other sources as noted is subject to the conditions of those sources.