Humanists Decry Stem Cell Research Ruling
Washington, DC, Aug. 24, 2010
An injunction by a federal judge has put federally funded stem cell research on hold, compromising the progress of vital medical breakthroughs, the American Humanist Association (AHA) said today. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled on Monday that funding of stem cell research violates a federal ban on taxpayer dollars going towards the destruction of embryos.
"The ruling is a step backwards for science, a likely disruption to important research, and this will cause real harm to many in need of medical innovation," said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, who pointed out that the case was brought by a Christian adoption agency whose executive director is on record as seeking to impose a conservative Christian view on national stem cell policy. "The injunction appeases religious conservatives who seek to have their theological opinions define public policy. Thus, this is just another example of how the obstructionist agenda of the religious right has real social consequences."
Lamberth cited language of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, the ban on tax-funded destruction of embryos, as "ambiguous," declaring projects involving any means of destroyed embryos illegal. This injunction compromises Obama's 2009 executive order to lift the stem cell research ban implemented by the Bush Administration. Stem cell research has been on the forefront of treating diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other debilitating afflictions. Lamberth's ruling leaves the future of many such federally funded research endeavors uncertain.
"Obama's decision to expand stem cell funding had the potential to make a positive impact on medical research," said Niose. "Halting these efforts is to essentially deny suffering patients an opportunity to recover."
The AHA is in support of any bill that seeks to strip the Dickey-Wicker Amendment of its prohibition against the use of stem cells for scientific research. As stated in an AHA Resolution in 2006, "The American Humanist Association supports research employing embryonic stem cells and federal funding for such research commensurate with its potential to advance scientific knowledge and lead to the development of novel therapies. Further, we encourage the development of ethical guidelines for such applications through the use of reason rather than religious or political doctrine."The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.