Supreme Court Will Not Hear Case on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the Obama administration's policy to expand federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells, the AP/Modern Healthcare reports (AP/Modern Healthcare, 1/7).
In 2009, President Obama enacted a policy in which NIH could conduct "scientifically worthy human stem cell research to the extent permitted by law," and subsequent NIH guidelines stipulated that researchers could use stem cell lines derived from donated frozen embryos that are no longer needed for fertility treatments (Savage, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
James Sherley -- a biological engineer at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute -- and Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology filed a lawsuit, Sherley v. Sebelius, against the expanded funding (Baynes, Reuters, 1/7).
A federal judge in 2010 -- citing a congressional ban against research in which "human embryos are destroyed" -- barred the expanded funding, but an appeals court later overturned that decision ("Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
In asking the high court to consider their appeal, the researchers said that NIH had a duty to respond to over 30,000 public comments on the agency's proposed stem cell policy before adopting final regulations (Reuters, 1/7).
In a one-line order, the high court justices refused to review the appeals court's decision (Kendall, Wall Street Journal, 1/7).
The ruling was issued without comment or dissent ("Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
In a statement, the Association of American Medical Colleges said the court's decision is "good news for patients," adding, "Research using [human embryonic stem cells] conducted under rigorous ethical standards continues to offer great promise in the search for cures and treatments for a variety of intractable diseases."
Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents criticized the ruling.
Steven Aden -- senior counsel for The Alliance Defending Freedom, which helped bring the case -- said, "Americans should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments and violate federal law -- especially in burdened fiscal times like these" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/7).
The plaintiffs' lawyer, Samuel Casey of the Jubilee Campaign Law of Life Project, also expressed disappointment with the outcome. He called on Congress to clarify federal law to prohibit the use of public funds for embryonic stem cell research (Reuters, 1/7).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.