Sep 29, 2010 12:22 PM
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WASHINGTON (AP) - An appeals court ruled Tuesday that government
funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue for now.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington granted the Obama
administration's request to allow the funding from the National
Institutes of Health while it appeals a judge's order blocking the
The administration had argued that stopping the research while
the case proceeds would irreparably harm scientific progress toward
potentially lifesaving medical treatment.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had blocked President Barack
Obama's research funding guidelines because he said it's likely
they violate the law against federal funding of embryo destruction.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court issued an unusually
quick decision, a day after hearing arguments over whether the
funding could continue while it considers the case. The court also
said it would expedite the case.
Researchers hope one day to use stem cells in ways that cure
spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease and other ailments.
Opponents say the research is a form of abortion because human
embryos must be destroyed to obtain the stem cells.
A 1996 law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars in work that
harms an embryo, so batches have been culled using private money.
But those batches can reproduce in lab dishes indefinitely, and
Obama administration issued rules permitting taxpayer dollars to be
used in work with the already created batches.
The administration thus expanded the number of stem cell lines
created with private money that federally funded scientists could
research, up from the 21 that President George W. Bush had allowed
to 75 so far.
"President Obama made expansion of stem cell research and the
pursuit of groundbreaking treatments and cures a top priority when
he took office," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a
statement after the ruling. "We're heartened that the court will
allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the
appeal is resolved."
Ron Stoddart with Nightlight Christian Adoptions, which filed
the suit and helps with the adoption of human embryos that are
being stored in fertilization clinics, said the case promises to be
a long and involved process. "I think that eventually Congress has
to step up and deal with it," he said.