The Obama Administration has announced that it will press for continuing federal
funding of embryonic stem cell research. The announcement comes on the heels of
a federal district court decision enjoining federal guidelines authorizing research
on human embryos.
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that regulations governing
stem cell research adopted by the National Institutes of Health are in violation
of a federal law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. That law prohibits the
use of federal funds for research in which "human embryos are destroyed, discarded,
or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."
Lamberth concluded that the NIH guidelines violate the Dickey-Wicker Amendment "because
embryonic stem cell research depends on the destruction of a human embryo." Attorney
General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama Administration will appeal Lamberth's
Shortly after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order revoking
guidelines for embryonic stem cell research developed by the Bush administration.
President Bush had limited taxpayer-funded research to 21 colonies of embryonic
stem cells already in existence and prohibited research on any new stem cell lines.
Since NIH has issued the new guidelines, 75 additional colonies of embryonic stem
cells have been approved for research funding. Embryonic stem cell lines are often
derived from "surplus embryos" created through in vitro fertilization procedures.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, hailed Lamberth's decision.
"[The judge's ruling] is a stinging rebuke to the Obama Administration and its
attempt to circumvent sound science and federal law, which clearly prohibits federal
funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. Embryonic
stem cell research is irresponsible and scientifically unworthy."
"Rather than fund additional embryo-destructive research, the government should
focus its resources on adult stem cells that are already improving health and saving
the lives of patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury and
many other conditions.
There is great potential in this country for stem cell research
and treatments for many diseases, while maintaining ethical standards."
Dr. David Prentice, a nationally known authority on the subject of stem cell research,
says that there are nearly 80 different diseases and injuries and conditions where
adult stem cells have already shown results improving patient health. "There are
already published scientific results from a number of patients where adult stem
cells from the patients have gotten patients movement, sensation, even walking again--but
it's only with adult stem cells."
Steven Aden, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says Lamberth's
decision is good news for American taxpayers. "The American people should not
be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life. The court is simply enforcing
a law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless
research on human embryos. No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life
The impact of the decision on the state of Missouri is unclear. Don Rubin, chairman
of the so-called Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, says the ruling could
have implications for "a handful" of embryonic stem cell research projects at Washington
University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Rubin's group campaigned successfully
in 2006 for Amendment 2, the state constitutional amendment that provides legal
protection for the cloning and destruction of human embryos in Missouri.
However, the ruling is expected to have little impact on the activities of the Stowers
Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, where the research is funded by private
donors and where no federal funds are reportedly received. Stowers contributed tens
of millions of dollars to the Amendment 2 campaign to maintain their research objective
of cloning and killing human embryos.
Recent developments in California demonstrate the folly of government investment
in embryonic stem cell research. In 2004 California voters approved Proposition
71, a $3 billion bond issue to finance ESCR. Yet press accounts reveal that California
officials have been quietly diverting the funds from ESCR to adult stem cell research.
Investors Business Daily had this to say: "Five years after a budget-busting $3
billion was allocated to embryonic stem cell research, there have been no cures,
no therapies, and little progress. ESCR has failed to deliver and backers of Prop
71 are admitting failure."
Medical research has shifted its focus to induced pluripotent stem cells. In this
research, scientists "reprogram" adult stem cells to resemble embryonic stem cells
without the need to destroy human embryos in the process.
Bernadine Healy, the
director of the National Institutes of Health in the Bush Administration, says that
"embryonic stem cells, once thought to hold the cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
and diabetes, are obsolete."
Dorinda Bordlee, senior counsel for the Bioethics Defense fund, sums it up. "Human
life should never be treated as raw materials for scientific experiments--and failed
experiments at that--since embryonic stem cells have never been used to help even
Jaci Winship, former executive director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, says
the federal court ruling provides a platform for re-educating the public about the
issue. "This decision has spotlighted the Obama Administration's unlawful and unwarranted
effort to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. This research is
unethical, unnecessary, and unproven. That statement is as true today as it was
four years ago when we fought the deceptive travesty of Amendment 2.
For more information on the subject of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning,
you can check out these resources from the Family Research Council at this link:
Family Research Council