Sherley v. Sebelius: A Call to Congress to Explicitly Support Medical Research on Human Embryonic Stem Cells

June 16, 2012

Progressive biomedical research is the key to developing new and effective treatments for many of the diseases and conditions that afflict our society. The scientific community is in agreement that human embryonic stem cell research is a field that holds great promise. The recent federal district court opinion in Sherley v. Sebelius threatens to derail the progress of science and the hope of millions by denying federal funding of this research based on an appropriations rider known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. While the rider’s plain language bans federal funding of any research that creates or destroys embryos, it has been accepted for over a decade that the government may fund research on stem cell lines that are obtained through private funding. With an uncertain outcome pending in the Court of Appeals, it will be argued that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment should be amended or repealed to give effect to the longstanding practice by the National Institutes of Health of funding human embryonic stem cell research within ethical guidelines. Furthermore, Congress should make it a priority to pass the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act in order to explicitly support the efforts of scientists working with human embryonic stem cells to develop groundbreaking medical advances.