Excerpt from: New York Times (click for full article)
The Supreme Court has wisely ended a bizarre and destructive lawsuit to prevent the federal government from financing embryonic stem cell research. By refusing to hear the case, the court put a halt to more than three years of turmoil that drove some scientists away from such research because of uncertainty about its legality and questions about continued federal funding.
Scientists study stem cells to analyze cell development and to explore ways that stem cells might repair or replace damaged tissues associated with such devastating ailments as spinal cord injuries, diabetes and Parkinson’s. Most of the stem cells used in such research have been derived from days-old human embryos through a process that destroys the embryos and is strongly opposed by many religious and social conservatives.
Although federal law since 1996 has prohibited federal financing of research that destroys an embryo, the Obama administration, like the Clinton administration before it, concluded that if stem cells were derived (and embryos destroyed) with private or state money, federal money could support subsequent research. Rules issued by the Obama administration were challenged in court by two researchers who work on adult stem cells; they contended that no research could get taxpayer money if it depended on an embryo having been destroyed at some point.