An appeals court has temporarily granted the Obama administration's request for funding of embryonic stem cell research.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled on Tuesday that funding can continue while the panel of three judges considers the case.
"President Obama made expansion of stem cell research and the pursuit of groundbreaking treatments and cures a top priority when he took office," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "We're heartened that the court will allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the appeal is resolved."
The panel's decision came after U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth blocked the funding in August, ruling it violated laws banning the federal financing of embryo destruction.
"Congress has mandated that the public interest is served by preventing taxpayer funding of research that entails the destruction of human embryos," Lamberth said.
"In this court's view a stay would flout the will of Congress as this court understands what Congress has enacted. ... Congress remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute. This Court is not free to do so," Lamberth said.
The Obama administration claimed a halt in funding could slow scientific progress. However, some critics argue embryonic stem cell research is a form of abortion.
Ron Stoddart is the executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, one of the groups involved in the current lawsuit. He told CNN he supported adult stem-cell research that doesn't destroy embryos.
"Frequently people will say why are you opposed to stem-cell research and of course our answer is, 'We're not,' " Stoddart said. "We're opposed to the destruction of the embryos to get embryo stem cells."