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According to the Bloomberg Business Week, on Dec. 6, 2010 attorney Thomas Hungar tried to persuade a three-judge panel in Washington to stop federal funds for research on stem cells in cases where human embryos are destroyed or injured. A lower court judge had ruled that the research violated the 1966 Dickey-Wicker Amendment limiting stem-cell research. Thus that judge temporarily stopped funding, and the U.S. appealed.
Hungar said, “There’s no question they are trying to, and are, incentivizing the destruction of embryos in violation of the amendment.”
Beth Brinkman, a lawyer for the Justice Department, stated that the spending is legal because the government is not paying for the destruction of the embryos. She said that the stem-cell lines in the research were created outside of the government.
The government has maintained that without the ability to fund research on embryonic stem-cell lines, years of progress in trying to find cures for diseases and disorders will be lost, and in which case scientists will look to Singapore and China in the hopes of continuing their work.
In fiscal year 2010, the National Institute of Health (NIH) spent approximately $200 million to fund more than 200 human embryo research grants. Embryonic stem cells can grow into any of the 200 types of cells housed in the body. These cells have the potential to be used to repair cells damaged by injury or disease.
In March of 2008, President Obama opened up government funding for the study of embryonic stem cells. He did this by reversing an executive order of former President George Bush, whose order had limited research to about 20 lines of embryonic cells.
The NIH wrote new guidelines permitting research on cells derived from embryos that would otherwise be disposed of after in vitro fertilization procedures. This was in accordance with Obama’s order.
However, two doctors who are stem-cell researchers sued in August of 2009, saying that NIH guidelines breach the Dickey-Wicker strictures.