Obama’s stem cell policy overturned

President Obama’s stem cell policy allows human embryos to be destroyed so their stem cells can be “harvested.”  But a federal court has overturned that policy:

A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration’s new guidelines on the sensitive issue.

The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos.

Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.

“(Embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed,” Lamberth wrote in a 15-page ruling. The Obama administration could appeal his decision or try to rewrite the guidelines to comply with U.S. law.

The suit against the National Institutes of Health, backed by some Christian groups opposed to embryo research, argued the NIH policy violated U.S. law and took funds from researchers seeking to work with adult stem cells.

via U.S. court rules against Obama’s stem cell policy | Reuters.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Digital

    New guy here, so sorry if this subject has been done to death. Could someone give me a breakdown?
    I am fully in support of Adult Stemcell research vs Embryonic.
    But I could really use some resources that distinguish why we fight so hard on this issue but we don’t seem to consider the ramifications of the menstrual cycle. Do we have a funeral once a month on the off-chance that the egg may have been inseminated? Is it the human intervention factor?
    I ask because I have run into problems with this question in debates. This is an intelligent group so I figure you all can give me some help here.

  • Digital

    New guy here, so sorry if this subject has been done to death. Could someone give me a breakdown?
    I am fully in support of Adult Stemcell research vs Embryonic.
    But I could really use some resources that distinguish why we fight so hard on this issue but we don’t seem to consider the ramifications of the menstrual cycle. Do we have a funeral once a month on the off-chance that the egg may have been inseminated? Is it the human intervention factor?
    I ask because I have run into problems with this question in debates. This is an intelligent group so I figure you all can give me some help here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@1), thanks for asking, though I’m not sure exactly what “breakdown” you want.

    Anyhow, the question isn’t simply whether a human embryo has died, it is, rather, how did this come to be. Comparing a natural (that is, not caused by man) embryo death to one intentionally caused by scientists in their experiments is akin to comparing the natural death of a human adult to a death of an adult caused by, well, scientists in their experiments.

    In both cases, the former occurrence may be sad, but, as it is God’s doing, there’s not much to be done about it. The latter, however, is rightly revolting to Christians and others who value human life.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@1), thanks for asking, though I’m not sure exactly what “breakdown” you want.

    Anyhow, the question isn’t simply whether a human embryo has died, it is, rather, how did this come to be. Comparing a natural (that is, not caused by man) embryo death to one intentionally caused by scientists in their experiments is akin to comparing the natural death of a human adult to a death of an adult caused by, well, scientists in their experiments.

    In both cases, the former occurrence may be sad, but, as it is God’s doing, there’s not much to be done about it. The latter, however, is rightly revolting to Christians and others who value human life.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Simply and well put, tODD – and welcome to “The Blog of Veith” dear Digital. For those scientists championing the use of the smallest and weakest members of our society for scientific research, evidently size does matter!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Simply and well put, tODD – and welcome to “The Blog of Veith” dear Digital. For those scientists championing the use of the smallest and weakest members of our society for scientific research, evidently size does matter!

  • Digital

    Thank you for the response. The “breakdown” was only necessary if this topic had already been done at length on this blog. Didn’t want to beat a dead horse.
    The argument I usually get, from folks supporting embryonic research is that these cells were to die anyway just as ones in a menstrual cycle would. Perhaps I should transition the argument next time into the fact that we are against in-vitro because of this? But then would that be an avoidance of what to do with the existing embryos?
    The reason this comes up so often with me is that my wife and I are infertile and therefore the subject of in-vitro is a common one when we talk to people about our pursuit of adoption. I myself struggle with the idea, so I imagine the unbeliever would all the more.

  • Digital

    Thank you for the response. The “breakdown” was only necessary if this topic had already been done at length on this blog. Didn’t want to beat a dead horse.
    The argument I usually get, from folks supporting embryonic research is that these cells were to die anyway just as ones in a menstrual cycle would. Perhaps I should transition the argument next time into the fact that we are against in-vitro because of this? But then would that be an avoidance of what to do with the existing embryos?
    The reason this comes up so often with me is that my wife and I are infertile and therefore the subject of in-vitro is a common one when we talk to people about our pursuit of adoption. I myself struggle with the idea, so I imagine the unbeliever would all the more.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Digital, I would encourage prayerful consideration of adoption of these tiniest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters of humanity. This website came up first when I searched for “Embryo Adoption”: http://www.embryoadoption.org

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Digital, I would encourage prayerful consideration of adoption of these tiniest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters of humanity. This website came up first when I searched for “Embryo Adoption”: http://www.embryoadoption.org

  • Digital

    Ministries like that one are amazing. We don’t know that would be an option for us, considering our infertility circumstances but we have looked lightly into it.
    We were just getting cozy in the idea of the perks of infertility, mainly:
    A) no birth pains :)
    B) no need to lose pregnancy weight ;)

  • Digital

    Ministries like that one are amazing. We don’t know that would be an option for us, considering our infertility circumstances but we have looked lightly into it.
    We were just getting cozy in the idea of the perks of infertility, mainly:
    A) no birth pains :)
    B) no need to lose pregnancy weight ;)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Christian prayer is a great blessing in these situations. May Christ bless your family greatly!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Christian prayer is a great blessing in these situations. May Christ bless your family greatly!

  • Digital

    Of course, we know that our family is out there somewhere, God is working to unite us.

    That aside, I am in a good position to help people understand our conflict with in-vitro and embryonic cell destruction. Is it that we are against the destruction itself or the process that leads to it?

  • Digital

    Of course, we know that our family is out there somewhere, God is working to unite us.

    That aside, I am in a good position to help people understand our conflict with in-vitro and embryonic cell destruction. Is it that we are against the destruction itself or the process that leads to it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@4), the best way to view any argument about embryos is to simply translate it to a point in the future in which the embryos are now infants (or older). How do the arguments hold up?

    Let’s see. “The argument I usually get, from folks supporting embryonic research is that these cells were to die anyway just as ones in a menstrual cycle would” (@4). Would we support experiments on unwanted infants because many infants die naturally (perhaps with an eye on the third world)? No. Nor could we reasonably claim that all such infants are destined to die of natural causes, anymore than one could claim that all embryos created in a clinic are necessarily destined to die.

    And as to your question, “Is it that we are against the destruction itself or the process that leads to it?” (@8), ask yourself: would we be against the destruction of infants, or the process that created thousands of unwanted infants?

    The answers seem rather obvious that way. Which is why most defenders of embryo experimentation, IVF, etc., reject the parallels in the first place. They refuse to concede that embryos are in any sense alive or human. Because if they concede that, the answers, as I said, are obvious. This is the true crux of such discussions.

    And, frankly, you’re not likely to convince these people that such embryose are alive and human. Because these judgments are, to a large degree, religious in nature.

    It is instructive, however, to ask such people exactly what the definition of either “life” or “human” is, and how both qualities are eventually found in an embryo as it progresses, without having been present initially.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@4), the best way to view any argument about embryos is to simply translate it to a point in the future in which the embryos are now infants (or older). How do the arguments hold up?

    Let’s see. “The argument I usually get, from folks supporting embryonic research is that these cells were to die anyway just as ones in a menstrual cycle would” (@4). Would we support experiments on unwanted infants because many infants die naturally (perhaps with an eye on the third world)? No. Nor could we reasonably claim that all such infants are destined to die of natural causes, anymore than one could claim that all embryos created in a clinic are necessarily destined to die.

    And as to your question, “Is it that we are against the destruction itself or the process that leads to it?” (@8), ask yourself: would we be against the destruction of infants, or the process that created thousands of unwanted infants?

    The answers seem rather obvious that way. Which is why most defenders of embryo experimentation, IVF, etc., reject the parallels in the first place. They refuse to concede that embryos are in any sense alive or human. Because if they concede that, the answers, as I said, are obvious. This is the true crux of such discussions.

    And, frankly, you’re not likely to convince these people that such embryose are alive and human. Because these judgments are, to a large degree, religious in nature.

    It is instructive, however, to ask such people exactly what the definition of either “life” or “human” is, and how both qualities are eventually found in an embryo as it progresses, without having been present initially.

  • Digital

    Good point tODD. That is what I usually end up doing. Being married to an ex-Biology Prof, I am better equipped to have the argument of what ‘alive’ is than most.
    I usually point them to the embryo adoption programs.
    “Because these judgments are, to a large degree, religious in nature.”@9
    But even so, as Christians we all know fellow Christians who have elected for in-vitro because it “Sides with life” by allowing someone to be born that would not have been otherwise. As humans do we sacrifice a few for the good of the whole? What does scripture say on this principle?
    I apply the principle, of how would you treat the embryo were it crawling on your floor looking for a toy. This catches several people (although not appeasing the athiest). But the argument remains from even the most stubborn Lutherans of “We side with Life”. Well so do I, but I let Christ decide, to which they reply “How is in-vitro any different than the natural process of selection, either way God decides.” And they have me, but I still don’t agree.

  • Digital

    Good point tODD. That is what I usually end up doing. Being married to an ex-Biology Prof, I am better equipped to have the argument of what ‘alive’ is than most.
    I usually point them to the embryo adoption programs.
    “Because these judgments are, to a large degree, religious in nature.”@9
    But even so, as Christians we all know fellow Christians who have elected for in-vitro because it “Sides with life” by allowing someone to be born that would not have been otherwise. As humans do we sacrifice a few for the good of the whole? What does scripture say on this principle?
    I apply the principle, of how would you treat the embryo were it crawling on your floor looking for a toy. This catches several people (although not appeasing the athiest). But the argument remains from even the most stubborn Lutherans of “We side with Life”. Well so do I, but I let Christ decide, to which they reply “How is in-vitro any different than the natural process of selection, either way God decides.” And they have me, but I still don’t agree.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@10), you said the question of “How is in-vitro any different than the natural process of selection, either way God decides” is one you can’t answer.

    Now, here I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable about IVF today and how it is practiced. But still, isn’t the technique in IVF to implant a number (4 or more, I’ve heard) of fertilized eggs — that is, embryos? To argue that such is equivalent to “the natural process” would be difficult. Two separate fertilized eggs is rare in itself in nature. I have never heard of three, much less four or more.

    Besides, I don’t think anyone involved in IVF could honestly claim that the hope is that all (four or however many) of the implanted embryos come to term. Instead, they use that many in the expectation that only one will take and grow into a fetus.

    As such, I have a hard time seeing that this truly would represent a respect for all life.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Digital (@10), you said the question of “How is in-vitro any different than the natural process of selection, either way God decides” is one you can’t answer.

    Now, here I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable about IVF today and how it is practiced. But still, isn’t the technique in IVF to implant a number (4 or more, I’ve heard) of fertilized eggs — that is, embryos? To argue that such is equivalent to “the natural process” would be difficult. Two separate fertilized eggs is rare in itself in nature. I have never heard of three, much less four or more.

    Besides, I don’t think anyone involved in IVF could honestly claim that the hope is that all (four or however many) of the implanted embryos come to term. Instead, they use that many in the expectation that only one will take and grow into a fetus.

    As such, I have a hard time seeing that this truly would represent a respect for all life.

  • Digital

    Ya I think that is why it is hard for me to answer. By “Natural Process” I understand them to mean that God decides which implant and which dont. Which, really is similar to natural fertilization but with a little help.
    For instance, my wife and I are not against artificial insemination, IVF seems like just an extension of this. Both are allowing a child to be born who wouldn’t be otherwise, or at least give them a chance. The difference being what happens to the extra embryos. In artificial insemination, they get thrown away through natural processes. The in-vitro we have to decide where they go. We have difficulty with this part but cannot qualify the reasons to other people.

  • Digital

    Ya I think that is why it is hard for me to answer. By “Natural Process” I understand them to mean that God decides which implant and which dont. Which, really is similar to natural fertilization but with a little help.
    For instance, my wife and I are not against artificial insemination, IVF seems like just an extension of this. Both are allowing a child to be born who wouldn’t be otherwise, or at least give them a chance. The difference being what happens to the extra embryos. In artificial insemination, they get thrown away through natural processes. The in-vitro we have to decide where they go. We have difficulty with this part but cannot qualify the reasons to other people.

  • Paul

    My pastoral advice t to those who will go the route of IVF has always been to fertilize no more than they are willing to implant and implant no more than they are willing to carry to term. Yes, it’s more expensive and possibly more dangerous for the woman if a second or third attempt is considered, but then there will be no ‘unwanted’ life conceived and no life caused to cease. This almost always means fertilizing no more than 2 or possibly three. In terms of outcome, adopting an unwanted embryo is a better option and adopting an unwanted, unborn child is better still in my pastoral experience; but using science to assist and never to destroy is a good position as well. It gives couples a chance to find an ethical answer. But what are the ethics of a couple being able to conceive only because they can afford the scientific process while while other children, already conceived, are being abandoned? That one’s a toughy.

  • Paul

    My pastoral advice t to those who will go the route of IVF has always been to fertilize no more than they are willing to implant and implant no more than they are willing to carry to term. Yes, it’s more expensive and possibly more dangerous for the woman if a second or third attempt is considered, but then there will be no ‘unwanted’ life conceived and no life caused to cease. This almost always means fertilizing no more than 2 or possibly three. In terms of outcome, adopting an unwanted embryo is a better option and adopting an unwanted, unborn child is better still in my pastoral experience; but using science to assist and never to destroy is a good position as well. It gives couples a chance to find an ethical answer. But what are the ethics of a couple being able to conceive only because they can afford the scientific process while while other children, already conceived, are being abandoned? That one’s a toughy.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Digital, you said, “Of course, we know that our family is out there somewhere, God is working to unite us.”

    Something about this prompts me to respond. I hope you hear what I’m writing as encouragement to you and your wife. In light of what sounds like expectation, I would like to gently encourage you to prayerfully ponder the facts as they stand now. Your family is you and your wife (plus extended family of course). Until either conception or an adoption happens, this is the family God has given you. Rejoice and give thanks for what He has given. Perhaps there will come a time for more family to be added, however that day is not guaranteed. There is much more comfort, from day to day, in simply giving thanks for the gifts we have, none of which any of us deserve. Pray boldly to Christ for your hearts desire (God knows that already anyway). But might God have great comfort for you as you simply acknowledge the facts and give thanks for present blessings (and struggles?). Christ be with you and bless you as you seem to want to faithfully struggle with these very difficult issues.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Digital, you said, “Of course, we know that our family is out there somewhere, God is working to unite us.”

    Something about this prompts me to respond. I hope you hear what I’m writing as encouragement to you and your wife. In light of what sounds like expectation, I would like to gently encourage you to prayerfully ponder the facts as they stand now. Your family is you and your wife (plus extended family of course). Until either conception or an adoption happens, this is the family God has given you. Rejoice and give thanks for what He has given. Perhaps there will come a time for more family to be added, however that day is not guaranteed. There is much more comfort, from day to day, in simply giving thanks for the gifts we have, none of which any of us deserve. Pray boldly to Christ for your hearts desire (God knows that already anyway). But might God have great comfort for you as you simply acknowledge the facts and give thanks for present blessings (and struggles?). Christ be with you and bless you as you seem to want to faithfully struggle with these very difficult issues.

  • Paul

    P.S. I did have one couple give instructions that only two be fertilized only to find out that the Dr. fertilized more “just in case” without paying attention to their wishes, thinking that he was doing them a favor. Uhg!

  • Paul

    P.S. I did have one couple give instructions that only two be fertilized only to find out that the Dr. fertilized more “just in case” without paying attention to their wishes, thinking that he was doing them a favor. Uhg!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    And I completely concur with Paul’s very pastoral advice.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    And I completely concur with Paul’s very pastoral advice.

  • Digital

    @Paul, that is fantastic, never really thought about that route before. Makes perfect sense.
    @Bryan, Yes we are aware that it could be our calling not to expand our family. But this is just something we are sure of after much prayer and consideration. We could try for IVF, a surrogate, embryo adoption, Artificial Insemination. But God has led us in this direction and whatever his will may be, will be. I read what you say as a blessing, so thanks for the encouragement.

  • Digital

    @Paul, that is fantastic, never really thought about that route before. Makes perfect sense.
    @Bryan, Yes we are aware that it could be our calling not to expand our family. But this is just something we are sure of after much prayer and consideration. We could try for IVF, a surrogate, embryo adoption, Artificial Insemination. But God has led us in this direction and whatever his will may be, will be. I read what you say as a blessing, so thanks for the encouragement.

  • Dan Kempin

    Great conversation here. I enjoyed following it.

  • Dan Kempin

    Great conversation here. I enjoyed following it.


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