Sept. 8, 2010 (EcoWorld) – Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research remains blocked after a judge refused the Obama administration’s request to lift a temporary injunction.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth, in an order issued on Tuesday, held that the injunction should remain in place until a final determination of the issues is conducted by the court. The Obama administration had argued that the injunction was stopping important research projects and scientific advances.
Lamberth disagreed with the Obama administration’s assessment, writing that the administration was “incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result” from the injunction. Lamberth explained that lifting the injunction would “flout the will of Congress” which was expressed in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment (a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for research in which embryos are destroyed).
Although Lamberth added that Congress “remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute,” but that he is not free to do so.
Opponents of stem cell research celebrated the decision as a victory for human embryos.
As a result of the judge’s order, the National Institutes of Health announced that no new grants for stem cell research would be considered. While existing research could continue, this funding would not be renewed once it comes up for routine review. Consequently, hundreds of researchers currently working on stem cell research will be forced to find alternative funding sources, or halt their research.
The ruling on Tuesday stems from a March 2009 decision by President Obama to permit the use of human embryonic stem cells in research supported by federal dollars. This was in opposition to former President George W. Bush, who had only permitted research on existing cell lines. The original case in Lamberth’s court was brought by a group of Christian organizations and two researchers who are opposed to the use of human stem cells in research.