Embryonic Stem Cell Ban Lifted – Temporarily

The ongoing saga of the court case involving the validity of current federal embryonic stem cell research funding policy continues.  Late yesterday a Federal appeals court issued a stay of the injunction preventing additional federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.  This follows the District court’s refusal to stay the injunction earlier this week.  The District court and the Department of Justice have exchanged arguments over the presumed harms related to the case.  The District court was not convinced researchers would suffer the harms alleged by the government, while the Department of Justice pushed on how much harm embryonic stem cell funding would cause the plaintiffs when one of them has never applied for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for their work.

Legally speaking the ball is in the plaintiff’s court.  The current stay is very temporary, intended to give both sides time to respond to the request for a more permanent stay of the injunction.  Plaintiffs have until Tuesday to respond to the appeals court, and the government will have 6 days after that to file its response.

In the meantime, the NIH is taking steps to make sure that those researchers who were supposed to receive payments during the injunction and/or during the current stay of that injunction will do so.