Today, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia lifted a ban on federal taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research pending further review (FoxNews.com). The ban was in effect from an injunction issued a couple of weeks ago by a federal district court judge in advance of his final (official) ruling in the case. However, the Appeals Court prohibited the injunction, saying it must accompany an official ruling. When he issues his ruling, expected in the very near future, and if he decides that funding embryonic stem cell research violates federal law, he then can re-issue the injunction. Supporters of this failed research, which destroys human embryos, have been up in arms since the injunction — which blocks the new federal funding approved by the Obama administration — was issued by the judge, U.S. Chief District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia (Washington Post). Because of the injunction, the National Institutes of Health suspended consideration of new grants for the research.
opinion noted that "ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo," and the plain language of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, passed by Congress every year since 1996, says that no federal funds shall be used for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed."
Separately, when ruling on an appeal to stay his injunction (before the appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals), Judge Lamberth correctly noted that his decision was pretty simple to come by, especially since Congress was explicit in passing the law:
In this Court's view, a stay [of the injunction] 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. ... defendants are incorrect about much of their "parade of horribles" that will supposedly result from this Court's preliminary injunction.
This new legal battle has ripped open the debate over taxpayer funding of research that is unethical, illegal and a complete failure. Rhetoric from researchers who benefit financially from the grants, as well as the politicians and organizations bent on making sure human embryos are not recognized as having any intrinsic value, continues unchanged. They again claim that the use of embryonic stem cells is the only hope for those who suffer from disease and paint those opposed to embryonic stem cell research as "anti-science."
The truth is, as usual, much different (see StemCellResearchFacts.org). Those who oppose continued funding of failed ESC research instead point to the multitude of successful treatments and cures from adult stem cell research. Dozens of effective and lifesaving treatments are not simply a pipe dream but a reality with adult stem cells which can be manipulated to act in much the same way as embryonic stem cells. If we want to be pro-science and pro-hope for sufferers of disease, shouldn't we instead fund and support the science that actually is working and actually produces cures? (Even Dr. Oz agrees!)
That's the message The Family Foundation takes to the General Assembly every year. If Virginia's taxpayers are going to be forced to pay for research, it should be research that is not only ethical but also successful. While much of the rest of the world has rejected embryonic stem cell research as a hopeless waste of money, in the United States our politicians continue to try to raid ever diminishing public coffers to prop up failure. It's another bailout that simply must stop.