Obama administration appeals stem cell injunction

Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:21pm EDT
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By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration asked a federal judge on Tuesday to lift an injunction halting human embryonic stem cell research, saying it would irreparably harm research and cost more than 1,300 jobs.

The Justice Department also appealed against the injunction by Judge Royce Lamberth in which he ruled National Institutes of Health funding of human embryonic stem cell research violated a law called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bars federal funding of work that involves destroying embryos.

The administration said Lamberth's ruling was overly broad and was having a significant negative impact on embryonic stem cell research, arguing that there was "serious doubt" Congress intended the legislation to be so encompassing.

"Numerous ongoing projects will likely not survive even a temporary gap in funds, jeopardizing both the potential benefit of the research and the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds already invested in it," the filing said.

The Justice Department asked Lamberth to rule by September 7 on the request to lift his injunction.

Lamberth's injunction was a setback for President Barack Obama and the issue could become a theme in November elections where his fellow Democrats who control both chambers of Congress are facing tough races.

One of Obama's first acts after taking office in 2009 was to broaden federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research -- a controversial decision because some people oppose any destruction of human embryos, even for medical research.

Dr. James Sherley, a biological engineer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher of Washington-based AVM Biotechnology sued, saying Obama's policy violated Dickey-Wicker and harmed their own chances of getting funding for similar research not involving embryos.   Continued...

<p>A human embryonic stem cell line derived at Stanford University is seen in this handout photo released to Reuters by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, March 9, 2009. REUTERS/Julie Baker/Stanford University School of Medicine/California Institute for Regenerative Medicine/Handout</p>