Federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research
is, for the moment, over. On Monday, a federal judge ruled
that funding even for research following up on earlier studies that involved embryo destruction violates
federal law. That sets the Obama administration (and
many researchers) back a bit.
- What the Decision Says Hot Air's Allahpundit and Think Progress's Ian Millhiser each explain the law involved: it's the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which
bans federal funding for research involving the destruction of a human
embryo. Under the Obama administration, federal funds have still been
used for "research on stem-cell lines derived from killed
embryos," explains Allahpundit. "In other words, no federal funding for
step one in the process, the killing of the embryo, but federal funding
for the rest of the process is okay." The question in this case was
whether that policy violates Dickey-Wicker--the judge decided that it
- 'A Major Blow to American Medical Research,' writes Steve Benen, adding that "legal experts and policy specialists are still trying to sort out the implications." Ian Millhiser
of Think Progress thinks the decision is "difficult to square ... with
Supreme Court precedent," since "judges are normally supposed to defer
to an agency;s reading of a federal law unless the agency's
interpretation is entirely implausible and the Obama administration
quite plausibly read the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to only prohibit
federal funding of the actual destruction of an embryo--not federal
funding of subsequent ESC research."
- More Conservative than Bush-Era Policies Millhiser
also points out that the decision makes the law tighter than what it
was under Bush, who "allowed federal funding for research on existing
embryonic stem cell lines, but would not allow new lines to be created.
Today's opinion even forbids such entirely uncontroversial research."
Conservative Hot Air's Allahpundit admits he is similarly perplexed: "It sounds like the court's decision would have found even Bush's policy in violation of Dickey-Wicker."
- The People Behind the Case ShortFormBlog's Ernie Smith unearths "an interesting wrinkle": the researchers behind the lawsuit didn't file it "for moral reasons.
Dr. James Sherley and Theresa Deisher work with adult stem cells
[rather than embryonic stem cells] and were afraid that Obama's new
rules would cut into the funding for their work because of increased
competition. In other words, they're selfish.
- What Happens Next "It's Congress's move now," writes Allahpundit.
"They can either clarify Dickey-Wicker to okay funding for research on
stem-cell lines derived from killed embryos, or [the administration]
can put their heads together to try to draft more clever language that
will comply with the statute." Either way, he continues, "given the
likelihood of a much redder Congress next year, they'd better hurry up."
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