GOLDEN — Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter Wednesday called on his opponents, Republican candidate Ryan Frazier and Libertarian Buck Bailey, to pledge their support for embryonic stem-cell research after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction this week blocking a 2009 executive order that allowed for increased funding for such research.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth Monday ruled that President Barack Obama’s executive order that lifted funding restrictions put in place by former President George W. Bush for all but a few stem-cell lines was illegal under federal law.
Lamberth said despite new National Institutes of Health guidelines that define ethical standards scientists must adhere to in order to get federal funding, federal law does not allow federal dollars to be used in the destruction of human embryos. As a result, up to $74 million in grants will be withheld from scientists.
“I am disappointed the federal judge’s ruling could set back advancements in this important research,” Perlmutter said. “I urge my opponents to stand against this latest court ruling, and pledge their support for the continuance of this important research that will help so many families in the 7th Congressional District.”
Bailey told the Colorado Independent that he does not think the federal government should have a roll in stem-cell research.
“On stem-cell research, I believe it is important research that should be privately funded. This is not something the federal government should be funding or working to prevent,” Bailey said.
Frazier’s campaign did not return calls or emails requesting comment.
The lawsuit was brought by adult stem-cell researchers who said they would lose funding as a result of the executive order and Nightlight Christian Adoptions, which said increasing the funding would lead to a decrease in babies available for adoption.
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can differentiate themselves into all cells in the human body. That ability gives researchers the hope that they will be able to use them to cure a number of diseases.
“Stem-cell research offers true potential for scientific discovery, and hope for families. This decision has just poured sand into that engine of discovery,” NIH Director Francis Collins said at a news conference Tuesday, according to USA Today.
According to Collins, some stem-cell research would continue using current funding, but new research would be blocked.
“Stem-cell research holds the greatest promise we have to find a cure for medical conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes,” Perlmutter said. “The executive order took steps to require the National Institutes of Health to establish clear ethical guidelines for the research, and I think the research should be allowed to move forward … My oldest daughter has epilepsy, so I know firsthand the hope this kind of research can mean to individuals and families.”
While the Obama administration is looking at legal remedies to the judge’s ruling, Rep. Diana DeGette said that she plans to put the issue at the top of her legislative list.
‘‘This catapults this issue to the top of the agenda,” DeGette told Bloomberg. “Congress is getting right on top of this, and I know we’ll be acting soon after we get back.”