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Federal court halts Obama administration’s embryonic stem cell policy

ADF, allies obtain preliminary injunction after demonstrating that administration’s research policy violates federal law
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Monday issued an order that prevents the Obama administration from carrying out its embryonic stem cell research policy while a lawsuit against it proceeds in court. The court concluded that the policy, which allows such research, is likely to be in violation of a federal law known as the “Dickey/Wicker Amendment” that prohibits federal funds from being used on research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

The Alliance Defense Fund is co-counsel in the lawsuit, Sherley v. Sebelius, with Samuel Casey of Advocates International. Tom Hungar and Brad Lingo with the firm Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, LLC, argued the case on behalf of doctors opposed to the stem cell research policy, which authorized the National Institutes of Health to fund additional research projects that destroy human embryos. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a dismissal of the lawsuit in June.

“The American people should not be forced to pay for experiments--prohibited by federal law--that destroy human life. The court is simply enforcing an existing law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden. “No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. Experimentation on embryonic stem cells isn’t even necessary because adult stem cell research has been enormously successful. In economic times like we are in now, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose.”

“If one step…of an ESC [embryonic stem cell] research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding by the Dickey-Wicker Amendment,” the district court’s preliminary injunction order states.  “Because ESC research requires the derivation of ESCs, ESC research is research in which an embryo is destroyed.  Accordingly, the Court concludes that, by allowing federal funding of ESC research, the Guidelines are in violation of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.”

In March 2009, President Obama rescinded via executive order former President Bush’s executive order that limited federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, LLC, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the guidelines governing destructive embryonic stem cell research implemented by the Obama administration in July “were promulgated without observing the procedures required by law.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.