Feds Win Round In Stem-Cell Funding Fight

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A federal appeals court in Washington has reversed a lower court's temporary ban on government funding of research involving human embryonic.

The decision came today after the Justice Department fired a volley Tuesday successfully arguing that District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth was mistaken in his reading of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment that bars federal funding of work that involves the destruction of human embryos.

Here's how the Justice Department put it:

The [National Institutes of Health] has consistently interpreted this provision throughout the past decade to distinguish between funding for research that involves the creation or destruction of embryos (which is prohibited) and funding for research that involves the use of stem cell lines derived from embryos.

Then the lawyers explained that even the temporary injunction on funding, put in place while a case challenging the government's support of human-embryonic-stem cell research lumbers on, causes a "direct and immediate" harm to science that "potentially blocks lifesaving medical advances."

Earlier this week Lamberth rejected the government's motion to drop the injunction, which took effect Aug. 23, citing the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. He also downplayed the damage, rejecting the "parade of horribles" that would be inflicted on research by the ban.

The reprieve could be temporary as the appeals court considers the underlying lawsuit. A further decision is expected later this month.



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