The US Justice Department moved Tuesday to block a court ruling preventing use of government for embryonic stem cell research.
"The is seeking a stay of the court's injunction to prevent the irreparable human and harm that could occur if these life-saving research are forced to abruptly shut down," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.
"The court's order causes irrevocable harm to the millions of extremely sick or injured people who stand to benefit from continuing as well as to the taxpayers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this research," a Justice Department statement said.
The Justice lawyers filed the notice of appeal and the proposed stay with U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who has effectively reimposed an eight-year-old ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. One of President Barack Obama’s first initiatives was to lift the ban.
Judge Royce Lamberth had ruled in favor of a coalition of groups, including several Christian organizations, which had sought a temporary injunction on funding of the research ahead of a planned lawsuit.
"Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits," Lamberth said.
The coalition argues that President Obama's March 2009 lifting of a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research violates legislation that prohibits government for research in which embryos are discarded or destroyed.
"ESC (embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed," Lamberth's ruling said.
"To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo."
Predictably the ruling stunned the administration and it vowed to appeal, and it has done so now.