Monday, May 2, 2011

Stem Cell Research STILL Allowed (Barely)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that government-funded researchers may use human stem cell lines derived from human embryos before a law apparently intended to ban such research went into effect. (For more on this issue, see blog posts dated Sept. 1 and 13, 2010). The panel ruled that because the language of the law banning research on cells derived from human embryos is written in the present tense, “it does not extend to past actions.”

Surely this will not be the end of it. It sounds like linguistic hair-splitting, even to me. Given that the 3-judge panel was split 2-1 on the issue, the ruling will probably be appealed to the entire Court of Appeals.

In the long run the only real solution may be for Congress to draft unambiguous legislation that makes it clear once and for all under what circumstances, if any, stem cells derived from human embryos may be used. And that will depend on whether either side in this issue can muster the necessary votes.

Stay tuned.

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