In welcome news for those who value the sanctity of human life, a US federal court ruling has temporarily blocked new Obama administration guidelines on embryonic stem cell research because they involve the destruction of human embryos.

Pro-life groups have welcomed Monday’s ruling, which comes after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued new guidelines last year that permitted federal funding for research on stem cell lines that had already been created.

However the Obama administration has decided to appeal against the court injunction, with the appeal expected to start this week.

According to an article in yesterday’s The Australian, Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that all embryonic stem cell research involved destroying embryos in breach of a US law, the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which bans federal funding. Click here to read the article.

The ruling was lauded by US pro-life groups, with the Catholic News Agency reporting that the Alliance Defense Fund had stated that the “American people should not be forced to pay for experiments – prohibited by federal law – that destroy human life.” Click here to read the report.

Debating the issue on the American PBS Newshour, senior fellow for Life Sciences at the Family Research Council, David Prentice, made the point that: “Embryonic stem cells come from destroying a human embryo. As far as the regenerative medicine part, the adult stem cells are only the stem cells that are actually already treating patients, thousands of patients every year, what we used to know as bone marrow transplants.”

The destruction of human embryos for stem cell research is also a fiercely contested issue here in Australia, where a Federal Parliament decision in 2006 saw approval given for the cloning of human embryos for research purposes despite a fierce campaign against this by pro-life groups, including the ACL.

The legislation passed by Federal Parliament in 2006 is currently due for a review, and the issue was raised in one of the 24 questions the ACL put to all political parties prior to the recent federal election. Our question asked:

“Given that the scientific basis for ‘therapeutic cloning’ has changed since the Federal Parliament considered cloning in 2006, and that there is now an entirely ethical and uncontentious method to obtain the same specialised stem cells that cloning scientists have never managed to obtain, does your Party support a new conscience vote on laws permitting the creation of cloned human embryos solely for research?”

Click here to read the different party responses to the question.