By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer, January 08, 2013.
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a long-standing appeal from scientists who tried to block funding of stem cell research on human embryos.
The brief order from the justices is a victory for supporters of federally funded testing to combat a range of diseases and illnesses. Federal courts had previously lifted an injunction on continued funding, and this latest high court action probably means the lawsuits will be ultimately dismissed.
The field of embryonic stem cell research has been highly controversial, because in most cases, the research process involves destroying the embryo, typically four or five days old, after removing stem cells.
These cells are blank and can become any cell in the body. Because of the destruction of embryos, most opponents believe this is a moral issue. Supporters of the research point to the potential for saving lives.
Legislation passed in 1996 prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars in the creation or destruction of human embryos “for research purposes.” Private money had been used to gather batches of the developing cells at U.S.-run labs. That congressional ban had been renewed annually.