Federal Judge Blocks Stem Cell Guidelines

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked new government rules on stem cell research, because he said it destroys human embryos. That ruling has put the Obama administration guidelines in conflict with federal law.

Federal law forbids use of taxpayer dollars to destroy a human embryo - and culling stem cells from an embryo does destroy the embryo. However, once created, these batches of stem cells, or lines, can reproduce indefinitely in lab dishes.

The administration's rules gave federally funded scientists access to more stem cell lines created with private money. Under former President George W. Bush, the number was 21. The Obama administration has allowed 75 so far. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said the new rule violates a law that prohibits using taxpayer dollars to destroy embryos.

For more on this recent ruling and how it affects the stem cell research debate, CBN News spoke with Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council.  Click play for his comments following Heather Sells' updated report.

"An embryo is not an egg, not sperm," said Rob Stoddart of the non-profit group Nightlight Christian Adoptions. "It's a baby at its very earliest stage of development, but it's a baby and destroying it is the same as abortion."

Nightlight Christian Adoptions, a plaintiff in the case, gives infertile couples access to frozen embryos, stored in labs around the country.

Some 400,000 exist and Nightlight said the Obama administration's new guidelines are limiting the number available for adoption.

Pro-life groups have praised the ruling.

"The American people should not be forced to pay for experiments, prohibited by federal law that destroy human life," the Alliance Defense Fund's senior legal counsel Steven H. Aden, said.

But other groups said important research is being cut off.

"It will be incredibly disruptive and once again drive the best scientific minds into work less likely to yield treatments for conditions from diabetes to spinal cord injury," said Sean Tipton of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The judge also ruled that the new guidelines hurt scientists studying less controversial adult stem cells by increasing the competition. He wrote the Obama rules that expand embryonic stem cell research fuel competition for limited federal research dollars.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.