Call for papers - Reproduction, Technology and Society, a new section in Reproductive BioMedicine Online
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93942

US Supreme Court: Challenge to expand stem cell funding rejected

14 January 2013
Appeared in BioNews 688

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a final appeal seeking to challenge the legality of using public money to fund human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The decision was made by the highest court in the USA and brings an end to the long running legal dispute, Sherley v Sebelius, and allows for federal funds to be made available for hESC research using embryos donated from IVF.

President Barack Obama lifted a ban on the federal funding of hESC research imposed by former President George W Bush in 2009 and issued guidelines stating that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is funded by public money, could conduct 'scientifically worthy human stem cell research to the extent permitted by law' (see BioNews 498 and 505). However, later the same year, two adult stem cell researchers, James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, brought a legal challenge against the Government arguing that the federal funding of hESC research is illegal as it involves the destruction of human embryos.

A judge ordered in 2010 that the NIH should stop funding the research in view of a congressional ban against funding research that leads to the destruction of human embryos, known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment (see BioNews 573). The injunction was suspended by the federal Court of Appeals later that year, pending further consideration of the case (see BioNews 575), and was later overturned (see BioNews 608).

The original judge who granted the injunction, Judge Royce Lambeth, then gave a judgment for the Government (see BioNews 618), only for that to be appealed by Sherley and Deisher. The matter was finally heard by the federal Court of Appeals in 2012, which decided in favour of the Government (see BioNews 671). It held the ban only applies to research in which embryos are destroyed in order to obtain stem cells. The type of research in question derives stem cells from already-existing embryos left over from fertility treatment that would otherwise be discarded.

'We couldn't be happier that this frivolous, but at the same time potentially devastating distraction is behind us', said Dr Douglas Melton, a scientific director at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Massachusetts, USA.

Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research in Washington, DC, added that the refusal to hear the case represented a 'great day for science'.

Opponents of hESC research have voiced their concerns over the endorsement of publicly funded programs. Steven Aden, a senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, involved in the case, said: 'Americans should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments and violate federal law - especially in burdened fiscal times like these'.

Sherley said the decision would not stop his efforts to 'emancipate human embryos from research slavery sponsored by the NIH'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
High court ensures continued US funding of human embryonic-stem-cell research
Nature News |  7 January 2013
Supreme Court lets embryonic stem cell research go forward
NBC News |  7 January 2013
Supreme Court rejects challenge to Obama stem cell policy
Los Angeles Times |  7 January 2013
US Supreme Court leaves stem cell research alone
Associated Free Press |  8 January 2013
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
12 December 2016 - by Rachel Siden 
Stem cell therapies could be granted accelerated approval by the US Food and Drug Administration as part of a new bill passed by the Senate last week...
3 June 2013 - by Nishat Hyder 
The Italian Senate has approved an 18-month, €3 million clinical trial of a controversial stem cell-based therapy. The vote, on 22 May 2013, will also allow a hospital to continue to treat twelve patients already undergoing the contested treatment...
25 February 2013 - by Maria Sheppard 
Human embryonic stem cell lines approved for federal funding in the USA, may have been derived from sperm or eggs of unconsenting donors...
8 October 2012 - by Tom Barrow 
The future funding of human embryonic stem cell research under the European Union may be in jeopardy after its inclusion in the next research funding programme is challenged by MEPs....
3 September 2012 - by Victoria Kay 
The US Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling permitting the use of federal funds for research involving human embryonic stem cells....
25 June 2012 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Six major UK research funding bodies have called for the continued funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research in the EU's programme for research and development...
11 April 2011 - by Nishat Hyder 
The American states of Minnesota and Oklahoma are both in the process of passing legislation that will criminalise certain embryonic stem (ES) cell research procedures....
15 June 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
President Bush has again vetoed legislation that would relax federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the US, despite it having been passed by large majorities in both the House and the Senate. In the third veto of his presidency, Bush said the...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.