DOJ: Stem Cell Ruling Would Have ‘Devastating Impact’ On Current Research

The Obama administration on Tuesday filed a notice stating that it will appeal a court decision which halted federal funding of stem cell research, and filed an emergency motion requesting the court stay its preliminary injunction which banned the use of the funds.Justice Department lawyers argue that the court should stay its preliminary injunction in order to “avoid terminating research projects midstream, invalidating results in process, and impeding or negating years of scientific progress toward finding new treatments for devastating illnesses such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and blindness, as well as crippling spinal cord injuries, through research involving human embryonic stem cells.”

Lawyers noted that the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research issued by the Obama administration “cover research that has been ongoing for years, including under the policies” of the Bush administration.

The ruling, said government lawyers “not only prevents new [stem cell] research from getting under way, but also will have a devastating impact on the viability of research currently in progress.”

The U.S. District Court judge’s decision limited the options of the government and scientists working on the issue. Recently Democrats signaled that they believe they can work out a bipartisan legislative fix to get around the judges decision, but that could be tough in an election year.

“The government is seeking a stay of the court’s injunction to prevent the irreparable human and financial harm that could occur if these lifesaving research projects are forced to abruptly shut down,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told TPM in a statement. “The great potential for significant additional medical breakthroughs is at risk if this research is halted pending the appeals process.”

Schmaler added that the court order “causes irrevocable harm to the millions of extremely sick or injured people who stand to benefit from continuing research, as well as to the taxpayers who have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this research through public funding of projects which will now be forced to shut down.”

The government’s appeal is embedded below.

Stem Cell Notice of Appeal