This is encouraging news:
A federal judge temporarily blocked the Obama administration Monday from using federal dollars to fund expanded human embryonic stem cell research, saying the research involves the destruction of embryos.
The ruling comes after the National Institutes of Health last year issued new guidelines permitting federal funding for research on certain stem cell lines that had already been created.
The court challenge was brought by adult stem cell researchers who argued the new rules not only would increase competition for limited funds, but violated federal law. A nonprofit group, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, also joined and argued that the government’s new guidelines would decrease the number of human embryos available for adoption.
The District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction on the research, saying the plaintiffs would suffer “irreparable injury” from the policy and that the new guidelines violated federal law that prohibits federally funded research involving the destruction of human embryos.
As it stands right now, there are in place legislative restrictions on using appropriated funds for the creation of human embryos for research or for research in which human embryos are destroyed. This is the Dickey Amendment, which has been included in spending bills in every fiscal year since 1996 and which Congress yet again passed last March.
*Update* Reminder: Several members of Congress would love to finally get rid of the Dickey amendment altogether, or find some crafty way to get around it. Although cloning and stem cell research has not seemed to have been a very high priority for Congress this year, there is a possibility that they still could either a: kill Dickey when it’s up for renewal at the end of this fiscal year or b: try to pass the “Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2009” or some form of it, redefining cloning and effectively allowing the government to fund the creation and use of cloned human embryos for scientific research.
Also, and I’ve said this quite often, but it really needs to be repeated: There is absolutely NO FEDERAL BAN ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH! There is only a ban on FUNDING the creation and destruction of human embryos in the name of science…for now.
*Update II* See Rebecca Taylor’s detailed explanation of how things have gone down for the past few years with regards to federal funding of ESCR and the latest court ruling.