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Court lets stem cell funding continue

A federal appeals courts Tuesday ruled that the federal government can continue funding human embryonic stem cell research pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's new policies on the controversial field of science.

The decision stays a temporary injunction issued on Aug. 23 by Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington. Lamberth said the funding violated the Dickey-Wicker law, which bars federal funding of research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

The Obama administration appealed, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Sept. 9 temporarily lifted the injunction pending further consideration. The appeals court on Monday heard arguments about whether to leave the injunction lifted while the case is decided.

During Monday's hearing, Justice Department attorney Beth Brinkmann argued that the injunction would result in "irreparable harm" to the National Institutes of Health because researchers could lose crucial experiments and scientific materials. Brinkmann was met by skeptical questions from the judges. But Thomas Hunger, the lawyer who represented the researchers who filed the original suit, also faced tough questions, so it was unclear how the court would rule.

The decision Tuesday to issue a stay on the injunction means the NIH can continue funding the research as the original while the judge's order blocking the funding is appealed. The court also said it would expedite the case.

The decision was hailed by supporters of the research.

"President Obama made expansion of stem cell research and the pursuit of groundbreaking treatments and cures a top priority when he took office," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "We're heartened that the court will allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the appeal is resolved."


Here's the text of Tuesday's ruling:

"Upon consideration of the government's emergency motion to stay preliminary
injunction pending appeal and for immediate administrative stay, the opposition thereto,
the reply, and the argument by counsel, it is ORDERED that the administrative stay entered September 9, 2010, be dissolved.

It is FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for stay pending appeal of the preliminary
injunction entered on August 23, 2010, be granted. Appellants have satisfied the
standards required for a stay pending appeal. See Metro. Area Transit Comm'n v. Holiday Tours, Inc., 559 F.2d 841, 843 (D.C. Cir. 1977); D.C. Circuit Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures 32-33 (2010). It is FURTHER ORDERED, on the court's own motion, that consideration of this appeal be expedited. The parties will be notified by separate order of the briefing schedule and oral argument date."

By Rob Stein  | September 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Stem cells  
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Comments

As a paralyzed US Army veteran I look forward to standing next to my exceptional wife, take showers standing, not have folks look down on my normally 6' 3" self etc etc etc. All of this would already be happening if the bible thumpers and the Repugnican fear mongers that use them I.e. Dubya had let science and medicine move forward. Thank you President Obama for the stem cell executive order it will change millions of lives for the better. America blastocytes are not life they are kept in freezers and flushed down drains every day in this nation. You don't keep your babies in the freezer now do you? HESC is the gold standard of the research and the upcoming therapies so stop with the lies about how only adult stem cells cure anything. The embryonic research would already have huge impacts on spinal cord injuries, diabetes, heart muscle repair, blindness, strokes to name just a few. I am on the front lines of this issue for obvious reasons and can emphatically state that my fellow injured veterans applaud the court and our nations commander in chief. Huua for stem cells. Airborne!

Posted by: jbento | September 29, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

jbento:
Thank you for your service.

Posted by: boyyourenosey | September 29, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, jbento, thank you for your service to our country. The original plaintiffs and their attorney insist they know which stem-cell research is likely to produce clinical results better than all the NIH review panels put together. I would go on about the unconscionable hubris of such a contention, but as jbento notes, these people are not really interested in either advancing science or helping actual human beings. They are just trying to shove their religious beliefs down everyone's throats.

I would hope that as Christians these people would recall that, according to the Ten Commandments, God has an opinion about bearing false witness against one's neighbors. There seems, however, to be no lie too brazen nor any witness too false to be pressed into the service of the theocratic, Christian-dominionist agenda.

Posted by: GordonCash | September 29, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow! How cool is it that jbento is POSITIVE that stem cell research will cure him! Not to mention the "millions" of others that you KNOW will be helped by this!

As much as you folks would love to engage in what seems to be a favorite sport, attacking christians, what say you can the rhetoric and discuss the facts.

I keep searching and searching for all this scientific evidence that proves using the stem cells of aborted humans cures ANYTHING. Cannot seem to locate it.

For the record, I am NOT a "bible thumper". Just don't get why you go the bigoted way and attack them. As a non-christian, I opppose this method.

jbento, I gotta say how I LOVE how you justify your own selfish desires by referring to these babies as "blastocytes". Not to mention the audacity of thinking that you speak for all "injured veterans"?

Gimme a break!

But keep playing that Veteran card. Silly flag waver! Oh wait, is it OK to say that since you attack the christians of this country? Of course not...

I apologize for my bigoted, knee jerk, ignorant comment about your service. Now, hows about you apologize for your bigoted, knee jerk, ignorant comment about the christians?

Posted by: kenskorupski | September 29, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@kenskorupaki: Do you know how the embryos for these stem cells are collected? They are donated by families who have had them created for in vitro fertilization. They are created in a test tube and kept in storage for a certain period of time. If they aren't implanted or donated, then they're incinerated.

Incinerated.

Not donated to another family, not used to save lives.

Incinerated.

If a family decides that they want to donate embryos that are otherwise going to be discarded, isn't that ultimately a better use than just throwing them away?

Posted by: lone1c | September 30, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

kenskrupski:
Probably the reason you can't find any scientific evidence that proves using the stem cells of aborted humans [sic] cures anything is that this issue is not about stem cells from aborted fetuses. I believe that aborted fetuses are treated as medical waste and disposed of as such. They are not used for research. The embryos used for research were never in a woman's womb, so they could not have been aborted.

Posted by: boyyourenosey | September 30, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Because our country does not have any laws to regulate the infertility industry, thousands of human embryos are being created each month and sentenced to be part of the half-million embryos in frozen orphanages.

Father Tad Pacholczyk, the Director of Education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center has said the practice of freezing human embryos is one of “the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our time.”

It was no surprise that opponents of Judge Lamberth’s decision moved quickly to get the ruling either overturned or to get Congress to change the law to allow human embryonic research back on track. One possible option in Congress still would be to lift the funding freeze by modifying the language of the Dickey-Wicker amendment. This is the amendment that has been attached to spending bills since 1996 which prohibits the use of federal funds for research that destroys human embryos.

President Obama’s Executive Order attempted to get around the Dickey-Wicker amendment by saying that federal funding could only be used in research on the stem cells harvested from human embryos; it could not fund the actual killing of the human embryos themselves. Judge Lamberth saw through the ruse, and said the federal prohibition, “encompasses all ‘research in which’ an embryo is destroyed, not just the ‘piece of research’ in which the embryo is destroyed.”

Father Pacholczyk told me earlier that while he was surprised by the judge’s ruling, it was hugely significant. “I would say it is a very important decision because it constitutes the central issue in the minds of many scientists; namely is the federal government going to be funding the kind of research that some scientists would like to do with human embryos?”

Father Pacholczyk, who earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale University and did post-doctoral studies at Harvard University, said while the issue is complicated to some, “embryonic human life is inviolable and deserving of unconditional respect.”

Scientists and others who claim that the human embryos are needed for research and would simply be wasted are not painting a complete picture, explained Father Pacholczyk.

“The situation is given a false dichotomy very often that ‘it is either this or that.’ Either the embryos will be thrown away or we could get some wondrous and miraculous cures if you would just let us have them. I think that is what the average person supposes, but the fact of the matter is we should never be throwing away a fellow human being. So the first point can never be granted. No, of course we cannot throw them away, these are our children, trapped in frozen orphanages and we have the duty to protect them and safeguard them to best of our ability and not hand them over to be destroyed for research purposes.”

Whatever happens, it doesn’t change the fact that over half-million human embryos remain in frozen orphanages across the United States without a moral way out of their dilemma.

Posted by: markarmstrong2 | September 30, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

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