Embryonic Stem Cell Research Regulation


In 2009, following a directive from President Obama, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published guidelines for government funding of destructive embryonic stem cell research   (ESCR). In 2010, Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the federal government from implementing its ESCR guidelines. The government appealed the preliminary injunction.

On April 29, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 2-1 ruling, vacated the preliminary injunction. The dissent characterized the majority opinion as “linguistic jujitsu.”

This was a ruling only on the preliminary injunction, with the case on its merits pending consideration in the district court.

On July 27, 2011, Judge Lamberth ruled against the plaintiffs and upheld the ESCR guidelines. He stated that the District Court was bound by the Circuit Court’s interpretation of “research” in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, noting that “. . . [T]his Court has become a grudging partner in a bout of ‘linguistic jujitsu’. . . .”  

On June 24, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act (H.R. 2376), which is being promoted as the vehicle to place the Obama regulations in permanent law. At year’s end, H.R. 2376 was pending in committee.