September 7, 2010

ADULT STEM CELL SCIENTISTS PLEASED THAT FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT HAS REFUSED TO STAY ITS ORDER ENJOINING UNLAWFUL FEDERAL FUNDING OF RESEARCH INVOLVING THE DESTRUCTION OF LIVING HUMAN EMBRYOS

 

WASHINGTON, DC (September 7, 2010)  Advocates International (AI), part of the public interest legal team along with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (GD&C) who brought the case before the court more than a year ago, was pleased that this afternoon Chief Judge Royce Lamberth, in his 2-page Order, denied government’s request for an emergency stay pending the government’s appeal of the court’s August 23rd decision and preliminary injunction enjoining unlawful federal funding of “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

 

Samuel B. Casey, AI’s General Counsel and one of counsel for the plaintiff adult stem cell scientists in the case,  said: “While not surprised, we are glad that the Court in its Order denying the government’s stay request held that the government is ‘incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result from [the] Court’s preliminary injunction.’  This is precisely what we explained to the court in our opposing memorandum of law and evidentiary declarations of Drs. Deisher  and Sherley that corrected the government’s misstatements of law and fact contained in its stay request and accompanying Declaration by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins.”

 

The district court’s opinion followed the decision by the United States Court of Appeals earlier this summer finding that doctors doing adult stem cell research have ‘competitive standing’ to sue. Therefore, the court reinstated the doctors’ federal lawsuit, filed last summer that seeks to preliminarily enjoin and ultimately overturn the controversial guidelines for public funding of embryonic stem cell research that the NIH issued on July 7, 2009.  

 

 Since 1996, in what has been popularly known as its Dickey-Wicker Amendment to each HHS Appropriations Bill, Congress has expressly banned NIH from funding research in which human embryos “are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

 

 

            According to GD&C’s Thomas G. Hungar, lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs who argued the case before the Court of Appeals and before Judge Lamberth: "We are gratified by the Court's conclusion that any further funding of human embryonic stem cell research under the NIH guidelines would ‘flout the will of Congress.’  As the Court recognized, ‘the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of [such] research,’ so that taxpayer funds can be preserved for more productive research that will actually yield cures, such as ‘activities related solely to adult or induced pluripotent stem cell research.’”

 

  The plaintiffs contend that the NIH guidelines violate the congressional ban because they “necessarily condition funding on the destruction of human embryos.”  In addition, the plaintiffs also allege that the NIH guidelines were invalidly implemented, because the decision to fund human embryonic stem cell research was made without the proper procedures required by law and without properly considering the more effective and less ethically problematic forms of adult and induced pluripotent stem cell research. 

 

President Obama, in his March 11, 2009 Executive Order announcing his Administration’s policy stated he was determined to fund ethically “responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research…to the extent permitted by law”. Sadly, said AI’s Casey, “these guidelines while claiming to ‘implement’ the President’s directions, failed his own test because they are not only unlawful, they are based upon an ethically irresponsible misunderstanding of available scientific evidence.” 

 

            As acknowledged by the Court in its Order today, “the length of time this preliminary injunction will be in place should be limited” because, as confirmed by plaintiffs’ legal counsel Hungar and Casey, “plaintiffs anticipate filing their motion for summary judgment and permanent injunction by this Friday, September 10.”

 

A copy of the Court of Appeals and District Court decisions, the President’s Executive Order, and the challenged NIH Guidelines and the comments thereon, as well as the government’s stay request and the plaintiffs’ opposition to it, can be obtained by clicking the hyperlinks in the paragraphs above.

 

OITHER CONTACTS:   Thomas G. Hungar, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, 202-887-3648
                                       Steven H. Aden, Alliance Defense Fund, 202-393-8690
                                       Dr. Theresa Deisher, AVMBiotech, 206-906-9922 (bio)
                           Peter Robbio, CRC Public Relations, (703) 683-5004, Ext. 116
                           Dr. James L. Shirley, (bio)

 

 

Advocates International is an international organization of attorneys in over 150 nations, including the United States, who seek to do justice with compassion, including through its Law of Life Task Force protecting the inalienable and sacred right to human life from biological conception to natural death.