In the long-standing battle between opponents and proponents of research involving stem cells derived from human embryos, last month a U.S. District judge issued a temporary injunction against the use of federal funds for such research (see this blog, Sept. 1). The injunction not only halted funding for future research projects that would have used stem cells derived from embryos, but also threw the funding for all current research projects into doubt. Researchers wondered whether their experimental animals would have to be euthanatized and their laboratory workers laid off.
To prevent that from happening, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals (the next step up the judicial ladder) issued a temporary injunction against the lower court’s ruling. The injunction will allow the National Institutes of Health to continue funding stem cell research temporarily, until an appeal is heard by the higher court. It also gives Congress time to act to change the law, but of course that depends on whether proponents of stem cell research can muster the votes to do so.
So now it’s in the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals and Congress. Researchers, patient advocacy groups, and opponents of embryonic stem cell research will be watching closely. It’s time to lobby your congressman, if you have an opinion.