Pro-Embryo Group Sues NIH

A pro-embryo group has filed a lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) alleging that the new stem cell policy of the Obama administration violates federal law. According to the members of the group, they filed the court case in order to protect embryos. In fact, one of the plaintiffs listed in the filing is named simply as "embryos".

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. in a 28-page-long document. Besides "embryos", additional plantiffs include Dr. James Sherley, Dr. Theresa Deisher, and Nightlight Christian Adoptions, each of whom is listed "individually and as next friend for Plantiff Embryos". Shayne and Tina Nelson, William and Patricia Flynn, and Christian Medical Association are also listed as plaintiffs, but not as "next friend for Plaintiff Embryos".

Dr. Deisher is director of R&D at AVM Biotechnology in Seattle, and Dr. Sherley is currently an adult stem cell researcher at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute although he is perhaps best remembered as the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who went on a hunger strike in 2007 in order to protest a lack of faculty diversity at M.I.T. after he was denied tenure. Nightlight Christian Adoptions is an organization which encourages adoptions of left-over embryos from fertility clinics.

The defendants are listed as Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to the Department of Health and Human Serivces itself, and Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, in addition to NIH itself.

Complaints filed in the lawsuit assert that the new federal policy on human embryonic stem cell research enacted by the Obama administration violates the Dickey-Wicker amendment. According to Drs. Sherley and Deisher, federal guidelines "authorize public funding of research that depends upon and, indeed, requires the destruction of living human embryos."

In March of last year, Nightlight and others filed a similar lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the state of Maryland. According to Tony Mazzaschi of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C., the new lawsuit doesn’t stand "a chance in hell" of succeeding.

(Please see the numerous related articles on this website, including but not limited to: "Obama Decrees Changes in Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Though Not What One Might Expect", dated March 9, 2009; "Obama Rescinds Bush-Era Executive Order Pushing for More Ethical Stem Cell Research", dated March 10, 2009; "Obama Signs Law Restricting Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research", dated March 11, 2009; "A High-Profile Proponent of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Sharply Criticizes Obama’s Policy", dated March 13, 2009; "Members of The President’s Council on Bioethics Object to Obama’s Stem Cell Policy", dated March 26, 2009; "NIH Issues Guidelines Restricting Embryonic Stem Cell Research", dated April 17, 2009; "Embryonic Stem Cell Advocates Protest NIH Guidelines", dated May 25, 2009; "Pros and Cons of the New NIH Guidelines", dated June 3, 2009; "NIH Receives Nearly 50,000 Comments", dated June 5, 2009; "Obama Scraps Bioethics Council", dated June 17, 2009; "NIH Issues New Guidelines", dated July 7, 2009; "New Director of NIH Chosen", dated July 8, 2009; "New NIH Stem Cell Guidelines are Slowing Research", dated July 14, 2009; and "Clinical Results From Embryonic Stem Cells are ‘Decades Away’", dated July 15, 2009, among other articles).

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