President Barack Obama’s administration can continue to use taxpayers’ money to fund highly controversial research using embryonic stem cells (ESC), a federal appeals court has ruled.
Last month District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the research violated federal law because it involves the destruction of human embryos.
Judge Lamberth imposed a temporary ban on the federal funding of such research, but earlier this month the US Government managed to have the ban postponed pending an appeal.
Now the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overturned Judge Lamberth’s ban and ruled that taxpayers’ money can continue to be used to fund the controversial research while the case proceeds through the courts.
After over a decade of embryonic stem cell research, no successful treatments have been developed. The first clinical trial is set to begin this year.
By contrast there are already over 100 treatments using adult stem cells which do not involve the destruction of human embryos.
During Monday’s 90-minute-long hearing the Obama administration defended their position to a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals.
Lawyers from the Department of Justice claimed that the ban would “irreparably” harm ESC research.
But Judge Thomas Griffith questioned whether the ban would be a waste of the money already spent on the research, saying: “They don’t keep lab notebooks?”
Judge Judith Rogers said that money which was spent on projects that were started and then halted represented a loss to the taxpayer.
Sam Casey, a pro-life lawyer at Advocates International, cautioned that “the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos.”
President George W Bush imposed a ban on the federal funding of research into new stem cell lines in 2001 arguing that he was defending human life.
This ban was overturned by President Obama in March 2009.