Judge Halts Stem-Cell Research Pending HHS Review
Curl, Joseph, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
A U.S. District Court judge has ordered a halt to embryonic stem-cell research that uses taxpayer money. It's a ruling to which the federal government willingly agreed.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth stayed a class-action lawsuit filed by a public interest law firm until the Department of Health and Human Services completes a review on regulations set by the National Institutes of Health.
"The defendants will continue their present policy of not funding any research involving use of pluripotent stem cells derived from human embryos" until the review is complete, Judge Lamberth wrote in his ruling dated May 4.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, which oversees the government's side of the case, said, "We're waiting to see what the review says."
Human Life Advocates filed a lawsuit in March - one week before an application deadline for federal research grants - asking the D.C. federal court to "declare unlawful" NIH guidelines that "provide for public funding of research that requires and depends upon the destruction of living human embryos."
"This is the first real victory in this case," said Samuel B. Casey, senior staff counsel for Human Life Advocates.
The lawsuit named HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and NIH as defendants.
A pro-life leader in the Senate applauded the decision last night.
"I am pleased with the court's decision and look forward to action by the administration to stop destructive embryo research," said Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, who has been in the forefront of the fight in the Senate to ban embryonic stem-cell research.
The federal government agreed in a "stipulation" that there would be no further research using embryonic stem cells until the review was complete.
While the government said it was prepared to file a motion to dismiss the case or move for a protective order, "because the defendants' review of the guidelines may render some or all of these motions unnecessary, the parties believe it would further the interests of judicial economy to stay this lawsuit pending the outcome of the review. …