September 8, 2010

Judge Upholds Ban On Funding Of Stem Cell Research

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth has rejected an Obama administration request to repeal the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

"In this court's view, a stay would flout the will of Congress," Lamberth wrote in his decision. He added that House and Senate lawmakers were "perfectly free to amend or revise the statute. This court is not free to do so."

The initial injunction, which was handed down by Lamberth on August 23, came about because "the federal funding, which President Barack Obama had authorized, violated the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a federal law barring federal tax funds from being used to fund any research that would cause human embryos to be destroyed," the AFP news agency reported.

The Obama administration, which is appealing the ruling that prohibited federal funding of the research, made an emergency appeal seeking the lifting of the injunction pending that decision.

"The research is fiercely opposed by religious conservatives, who believe that life begins at conception, because it involves the disposal of embryos," notes the AFP. "Researchers believe that stem cells, so-called because they are the foundation for all human cells, provide two promising avenues for scientists"¦ First, they can be used for research that cannot be performed inside the body. But scientists believe they can also coax the foundational cells into cardiac, pancreatic or brain cells to replace damaged or infected cells and allow tissue or organs to reconstitute themselves."

Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research was banned by Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, in 2001. Those limitations were overturned by Obama in March 2009, who at the time, according to CNN, said that he believed that the government was "forced" into "what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values."


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