Federal judge grudgingly tosses suit against tax-funded embryo research
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s decision to fund embryo-destroying research with taxpayer money.
Drs. James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, both experts in the field of adult stem cell research, filed suit against the administration in August 2009 after President Obama removed Bush-era limitations on embryo research by the National Institute for Health (NIH).
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth last year had granted Sherley and Deisher’s request for preliminary injunction barring the taxpayer-funded research, but the D.C. Court of Appeals quickly overturned the injunction at the urging of the Justice Department.
Lamberth in his opinion Wednesday agreed that plaintiffs had standing to bring the complaint, a point federal lawyers had contested. However, he concluded that his court was bound by the appeals court’s determination that the new NIH guidelines do not violate federal law, despite his own strong disagreement.
“While it may be true that by following the Court of Appeals’ conclusion as to the ambiguity of ‘research,’ this Court has become a grudging partner in a bout of ‘linguistic jujitsu’ ... such is life for an antepenultimate court,” wrote Lamberth.
A 1996 law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibits the NIH from funding “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.” The NIH had argued that its new guidelines followed the law because the process of killing the embryos is not funded, only the research on the cells derived from them.
Lamberth last year had concluded, however, that the federal prohibition ‘“encompasses all ‘research in which’ an embryo is destroyed, not just the ‘piece of research’ in which the embryo is destroyed.”
The Obama administration praised today’s ruling.
“For too long, patients and families have suffered from debilitating, incurable diseases and we know that stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans across the country,” wrote Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter on the White House blog.
Opponents of embryonic stem-cell research note that the controversial field has yet to yield even one therapeutic treatment, while adult stem cell research, which has yielded scores of breakthrough treatments, is financially neglected.
In the latest such breakthrough for adult stem cells, this summer a cancer patient with advanced tracheal cancer successfully received a completely artificial windpipe, designed by British scientists and grown from his own stem cells.