Judge Upholds Ruling Limiting Federal Funds for Stem Cell Research
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth rejected the Obama administration's request to lift his preliminary injunction against President Obama's March 2009 executive order allowing federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, the Washington Post reports.
The administration sought the reprieve while it appealed Lamberth's initial decision (Stein, Washington Post, 9/7).
On Aug. 23, Lamberth issued the preliminary injunction against Obama's stem cell policy, which also temporarily blocks NIH from providing financial grants for the research under new guidelines by the Obama administration.
In his decision, Lamberth said that Obama's rules violate a 1996 law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits expending federal funds for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed" (California Healthline, 8/24).
Last week, the Department of Justice asked Lamberth to lift the ban, arguing that it would jeopardize millions of dollars intended for projects already under way and prevent "significant additional medical breakthroughs."
NIH officials said that under the injunction:
- 24 projects anticipating renewal this month would be at risk;
- An additional 199 grants would be suspended; and
- About 1,300 full- or part-time jobs could be eliminated (California Healthline, 9/1).
In the brief rejecting DOJ's request, Lamberth wrote that the administration was "incorrect about much of their 'parade of horribles' that will supposedly result from this Court's preliminary injunction" (Pelofsky, Reuters, 9/8).
He continued, "In this Court's view, a stay would flout the will of Congress, as this Court understands what Congress has enacted in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment," adding, "Congress has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos" (Washington Post, 9/7).
However, Lamberth's latest ruling clarifies some of the confusion and concerns that some researchers had over federal funding for stem cell research projects already in progress, the Los Angeles Times' "Booster Shots" reports.
Lamberth noted that projects approved for federal funding during the George W. Bush administration could continue (Kaplan, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 9/7).
A DOJ spokesperson said that Lamberth's latest order is under review and declined further comment (Washington Post, 9/7).
The Obama administration still is expected to appeal Lamberth's original ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Reuters, 9/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.