Stem Cell Litigation

Dear Parkinson’s Community,

On August 24, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Sherley v. Sebelius affirming the earlier District Court decision that found federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research is not prohibited by federal law. This is a great victory for stem cell research advocates around the country. As many of you already know, this case has been in the courts for three years. While this field of research, which is promising for so many diseases, has moved forward during the course of the litigation, it will only help the field to have any uncertainty about its legitimacy in the federal research arena removed. PAN has been active in this litigation through its membership in the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), of which I am president. CAMR filed an amicus brief supporting the government and this important research.

The ruling, while a clear win, was somewhat fractured in that each of the three judges on panel relied upon their own theory of why the funding is legitimate. The fact that the opinion is fractured does not make the ruling less positive -- all three uphold federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research -- but it may make it more likely that an appeal will be granted, either for an additional level of review by the Circuit Court or by the Supreme Court. However, both times this case has reached the Circuit Court, the defendants, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services have won, so we have every reason to believe that the rulings would continue to be favorable.

We will continue to monitor this litigation on behalf of the Parkinson's community. In the meantime, I thank all the advocates around the country who have worked so hard on this and many other important advocacy issues on behalf of the Parkinson's community.

Amy Comstock Rick