Researchers at dozens of labs across the country are scrambling today to figure out exactly where their research stands and if feeding their cell cultures is even legal after a ruling handed down yesterday by a federal judge blocked President Obama's 2009 executive order expanding the scope of embryonic stem cell research. At issue: Whether or not Obama's policy violates a federal ban on federal money contributing to the destruction of embryos. At stake: A whole lot of ongoing medical science that could be cut down in stride.
The ruling, according to Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court for D.C., should return the federal policy to the "status quo," an ambiguous statement that some understand as a return to the Bush administration's policy of limiting federally funded research to work on the 21 embryonic stem cell lines already created in 2001. But some scientists worry that the ruling may condemn all embryonic stem cell research illegal, including research that was allowed under the Bush policy.
President Obama moved early in his presidency to expand the kinds of stem cell research that can receive federal dollars. The government still cannot fund research that directly destroyed embyos, but under Obama's rules federal money could fund research on cell lines outside of those original 21 the Bush rules had limited researchers to. So if private financing could be used to obtain or create new stem cells (usually from fertility clinics and with consent of unpaid donors), federal funds could then be used to conduct research on those cells.
Yesterday's ruling strikes down the line between embryonic destruction and later work on cells resulting from that destruction. What's unclear is how far it goes. Some scientists worry that the ruling may make illegal even work that was allowed under the Bush policy. Some think that if they continue the research they were doing yesterday they may be in violation of the law, while others have interpreted it to mean that research may continue but the National Institutes of Health must use the Bush-era guidelines for federal grants going forward.
In the meantime, some researchers have simply told their labs not to use anything in their research that was paid for with federal dollars until Department of Justice lawyers figured out exactly what the ruling means. More on this as it develops, but for the time being sensitive stem cell experiments nationwide appear to be in a state of limbo. More details on the legal minutiae are available through the NYT link below.
Oh Obama... you baby killer :)
I fail to see any scientific progress being made here.
politics, meaningless politics....
Not meaningless politics. It's a moral issue. No one would argue that research done on prisoners by the Nazis was important for science. It was clearly unethical. Sometimes ethics trumps research. Whether or not to destroy human embryos or how they may be used in research is a moral issue.
This was debated in Congress back in 1996 and it was decided that federal funds would not be used to fund research that destroyed human embryos (see H.R.3010 sec.509). President Bush may have circumvented this by granting federal funds to do research on embryonic stem cell lines already in existence as long as new ones weren't created. So much for the lie that President Bush limited embryonic stem cell research funding--he actually expanded it. President Obama expanded funding further. According to the recent judicial decision, both Presidents may have violated the restriction on embryonic stem cell research funding with federal money.
You wouldn't be saying its a moral issue if you lost the ability to walk, and some scientist said, we can give you the ability to walk again, but we just have to use these stem cells.
If you eat eggs, you're eating an embryo. People are hypocrites.
“Morals” vary from culture to culture and even from one Christian church to another (There were Christian churches that backed Hitler). If my child died (morally or not) and her organs could be used to help others lives to be better I’d donate them.
If a person decides to abort their child why not use the body to help others? That way the child’s body could be used for good and give the “senseless death” some meaning.
While I agree that limiting stem cells to non-embryonic is ridiculous, I would like to point out that chicken eggs, as they are unfertilized, are not embryos.
They only have half of the required chromosomes to produce a new offspring, i.e. haploid.
The debate here is over the issue of "is research at any cost with no boundries desireable?" Killing of fetuses to get stem cells is illegal but the president went beyond the boundries and authorized more radical research. The court has now stepped in and challenged that which is their proper role.
Two more issues I would like to see them address.
1- are executive orders which have the same effect as law legal? The legislative branch has sole jurisdiction over lawmaking.
2 are supreme court directives derived from court opinion and having the same effect as law legal? This would effect civil rights and the entire, no thats, ENTIRY welfare society.
My opinion is that research without bounds leads researchers into deep waters and there are those who would not stop at reasonable but would go all the way. Limits are good and changes to the limits should be legislated with careful debate not just by somebodies opinion---even mine.
Chicken egg embryos? Organ donations? These arguments for embrionic stem cell research are completely absurd. It's profound moral confusion amongst the pro-abort crowd to suggest where hypocrites if we eat chicken embrios (granted as someone already pointed out, that argument was also biologically wrong). Animals don't have the same significance as humans and only the most extreme animal activists are confused about this. As for the organ donation argument, would you also support using murdered Jews from the holocaust for medical research?
There are only two valid considerations for deflecting the moral concern of this issue, and that is the claim that a human embryo isn't a person or that it's high potential for personhood doesn't establish special moral status.
onlyhuman said "If a person decides to abort their child why not use the body to help others? That way the child’s body could be used for good and give the “senseless death” some meaning."
So the "child's body" ie. fetus becomes just a part to fix other people, and a crutch for those who are burdened with thought of killing their unborn baby? Sort of sounds like what your saying.
"pro-abort crowd" Hmhmhmhm... funny. So the pro-"unicorn" crowd? That also doesn't exsist.
"would you also support using murdered Jews from the holocaust for medical research?" To understand the impact on the human body because of holocaust conditions? Yes.
"So the "child's body" ie. fetus becomes just a part to fix other people, and a crutch for those who are burdened with thought of killing their unborn baby? Sort of sounds like what your saying."
No. A SINGLE man with a spinal injury that doesnt want kids breaks you argument. It is NOT an our baby or your baby thing. It is "Im gonna die if I cant get some stem cells" thing.
<em>"would you also support using murdered Jews from the holocaust for medical research?" To understand the impact on the human body because of holocaust conditions? Yes.</em>
And then the parallel fails. We don't study embryonic stem cells to understand how abortion kills embryos. We are studying them because it benefits someone else. But, that's just not where the debate is. We can benefit a lot of people by murdering healthy people and donating their organs.
<em>No. A SINGLE man with a spinal injury that doesnt want kids breaks you argument. It is NOT an our baby or your baby thing. It is "Im gonna die if I cant get some stem cells" thing.</em>
Well maybe one day we can learn how to rip a spine out of a healthy adult and place it into another and it will be just as wonderful as stem cell research. And for everyone who is morally alive enough to know this is a sick absurdity not worth debating, we still know that the debate is about the moral and existential status of an embryo. THAT is primary concern.
@UFCWarrior: You're talking about "induced pluripotent stem cells". These are when you take adult cells and revert them back to stem cell stage, as you said. Unfortunately, not only is the induction part of the process fairly expensive, but the resulting stem cells are limited in what they can become. Compare that to embryonic stem cells, which can become virtually any kind of cell and are much cheaper.
What I hate is that in these debates, people never mention cord blood stem cells. Cord blood stem cells ARE embryonic stem cells, and no one needs to worry about morals there because you'd normally just throw away the umbilical cord anyway.
However, I'd like to point out something: If you're against first-trimester abortion, but you're fine with IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), you're a hypocrite. With IVF, the doctor knows there's only a small chance that a fertilized egg will implant itself into the uterus and develop into a baby. Thus, he/she will fertilize four or five eggs at a time in the hopes that one might implant. Basically, they create 5 fertilized eggs (which the moralists consider a full "human life") knowing that anywhere from 1 to 5 will die before they even develop into a zygote.
I may have shown some people the light with that...or, I may have started a WWIII against IVF. Hopefully the former?
-IMP ;) :)
Oh, and I forgot to respond to geebob like I wanted :) .
Geebob, there's a huge assumption you're making, and it's wrong. You seem to think if embryonic stem cell research is fully legal, scientists will be aborting children just for the stem cells. At least, that's what your metaphor implies.
That's 100% wrong. Abortions take place for many reasons: insufficient parenting ability, health risks/problems, IVF rejections, etc. It's these aborted fetuses--not new, just-to-study abortions--that will be used.
So it's not like ripping the spine out of a healthy individual to use for cells. It's more like an individual has a terrible accident that detaches his spine, and then we use that for studies. Which is what we do--we use organs from dead people to help the living, we don't kill people to use their organs.
-IMP ;) :)
1) If the tech worked, someone would fund it somewhere in the world. If the US takes a high road, and China does not, then China will make and capitalize on any rewards of that choice.
2) Thus, this becomes and issue (like the cloning of humans), where the mess is dumped into someone else's pond, and we only reap any benefits when they come to market.
3) We are not reading about any advances made from stems cells in this country or any other - only pipe dreams of what could happen.
4) The strongest support for stem cells is always the desparately ill, who have nothing to lose in their pursuit of continued life, and the researchers who live from the funding of their snake oil projects.
So why not just use stem cells from skin cells? Debate over, no harm done. The paralyzed man gets to walk and the babies get to live.