Treatments

Embryonic-Stem-Cell Funding Stays Bottled Up

Human embryonic stem cells

A ban on federal funding of research involving human embryonic stem cells like these will stay in effect, despite a government appeal. Nissim Benvenisty/PLoS Biology hide caption

itoggle caption Nissim Benvenisty/PLoS Biology

No dice, Justice Department.

Arguments by government lawyers that a preliminary injunction against funding of research with human embryonic stem cells would imperil a wide range of experiments and years of investment got nowhere with a federal judge.

In a three-page decision Tuesday, Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, rejected the request to lift the funding ban he issued Aug. 23.

Mincing no words, he wrote the government is wrong "about much of their 'parade of horribles' that will supposedly result" from the stay on funding.

The injunction was imposed after Lamberth ruled federal money couldn't go to research that was related to the destruction of human embryos because that would fly in the face of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment barring such work.

Lamberth wrote:

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. Congress remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute. This Court is not free to do so.

The Washington Post reported the Justice Department is expected to appeal, but a spokesman told the paper the government was still reviewing the latest decision.

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