Embryonic Stem Cell Research versus the Rule of Law

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on May 19, 2011

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

The embryonic stem cell research controversy is an ethics, not a science, debate. But it also involves the rule of law. Indeed, two recent court rulings—one in the USA and one in Europe—illustrate how the intense politics swirling around ESCR have the potential to undermine the rule of law.

First, let’s consider an ongoing case in the USA, in which two adult stem cell researchers sued to enjoin federal funding of human ESCR because, they claim, doing so violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Dickey-Wicker, a government rider to the budgetary process, has been passed by every Congress and signed by every president since 1996. Its terms explicitly preclude the Feds from paying to create embryos for use in experiments, or for research that destroys embryos. Thus, the outcome of the researchers’ lawsuit should be decided based on the facts of how embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is performed as applied to the clear terms of the law as written. If embryos are destroyed, then under Dickey, federal funding would seem to be precluded. If not, then not. Continue Reading at CBC-Network.org

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