Read the brief filed by Bioethics Defense Fund  on behalf of stem cell scientist/embryologist Dr. Maureen Condic.  And learn the background and scientific facts about a breakthrough in ethical stem cell research that President Obama ignored in issuing his executive order.  
Related Pages:
Join The Mailing List:

Obama NIH Funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The President's missed opportunity to use the latest science to unite the Nation

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order authorizing the NIH to grant tax-payer funds to create new human embryonic stem cell lines for research -- a method that has yet to produce a single successful therapy for any human patient, unlike non-embryonic (adult) stem cell sources that have helps patients around the world.  A federal court has ruled that using tax dollars in this way violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.  BDF has filed a science brief in the appeal.

July 8, 2011:  Chart shows rapid increase in human embryos destroyed for taxpayer funded experimentation under Obama NIH.

REVIEW THE TABS BELOW to see the BACKGROUND FACTS that President Obama chose to ignore in his missed opportunity to bring the nation together for aggressive, effective and ethical stem cell research -- and to read about the COURT CHALLENGE reviewing a federal court ruling that the Obama NIH funding policy violates federal funding provisions.

  • Court Challenge
  • ESCR Executive Order
  • Ignored Stem Cell Breakthrough
  • Fact Sheets

January 7, 2013 It's official: Despite the heroic filings of amicus experts like Dr. ML Condic, federal courts will not stop the Obama NIH from using your tax dollars for useless experimentation that requires the destruction of human beings at the embryonic stage of life. Zero stem cell therapies come from destroying human embryos.
Read More . . .


UPDATE: August 24, 2012


The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has released a decision in the appeal of Sherley v. Sebelius, upholding the lower court's decision to dismiss the case, thus allowing federal funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research to continue. has an Associated Press story on the ruling: "Court: gov't can fund embryonic stem cell research".


BDF will continue to monitor this case and update this page with the latest information.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments today addressing a ruling by the district court that the Obama administration's NIH Guidelines violate the Dickey-Wicker Amendment by authorizing taxpayer funding of stem cell research that necessarily destroys living human embryos.

Bioethics Defense Fund has filed an amicus brief on behalf of Dr. Maureen L. Condic, a research scientist and professor, presenting the D.C. Circuit with a cogent scientific white paper entitled, When Does Human Life Begin: A Scientific Perspective (Westchester Institute, 2008).  As explained by Dr. Condic:

"It is important for the Court to understand the scientific evidence presented in our amicus brief because it solidly addresses the common misperception that the question of when human life begins cannot be resolved.  This question has been entirely resolved by modern scientific investigation.  While the ethical and legal status of human beings at early stages of development remain as issues to be addressed by law and public policy, the public and the courts should be made aware that the scientific facts are unambiguous; based on universally accepted scientific criteria, human embryos are clearly human organisms, i.e., human beings, and not merely collections of cells."

BDF attorney Dorinda C. Bordlee says that Dr. Condic's amicus brief is foundational because "any credible policy regarding research on human beings at the embryonic stage of life must first address the serious ethical and legal regulations that Congress has already addressed regarding the funding of research that harms or destroys human subjects."  In particular, the amicus brief establishes that "the Dickey-Wicker Amendment's reference to certain 'human subject' protections is consistent with Congress' implicit recognition that a human embryo is a human being."  

Nikolas T. Nikas, BDF president and general counsel, stated, "This litigation is of critical importance because the Obama policy disregards the will of Congress based on the consciences of citizens who do not want their tax dollars used to support research that makes them complicit in the intentional destruction of human lives."  




  • The BDF amicus brief on behalf of Dr. Maureen Condic in the case of Sherley v. Sebelius can be reviewed at
  • A full copy of Dr. Condic's white paper can be reviewed here.





Bioethics Defense Fund,, is a public-interest legal organization whose mission includes advocating for the protection of human life in science and medicine through litigation, legislation and public education.

Contact:  Dorinda C. Bordlee, Senior Counsel, Bioethics Defense Fund, 504-231-7234,


The Executive Order: Tax-Funded Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

March 9, 2009.  The following is a BDF Press Release addressing President Obama's executive order authorizing the NIH to expend federal tax-payer dollars to create new human embryonic stem cell lines for research that has yet to produce a single successful therapy for any human or animal. 

"The effect of President Obama's Executive Order is to direct scarce federal tax dollars to research that is immoral, ineffective and, given recent scientific advances, unnecessary," said BDF President and General Counsel Nikolas T. Nikas.

In highlighting the missed opportunity that President Obama had to unite our nation around recent breakthrough research methods, Nikas pointed to a March 4, 2009 article by former NIH head Dr. Bernadine Healy entitled Why Embryonic Stem Cells are Obsolete.

Bioethics Defense Fund has compiled an educational resource highlighting the facts that President Obama should have relied on to bring the nation together behind the breakthrough alternative method of induced pluripotent stem cell research (iPSC).  The iPSC method provides cells virtually identical to embryonic stem cells, but without the need for embryos, cloning or egg harvesting. (See "Ignored Breakthrough" Tab).

BDF Senior Counsel Dorinda Bordlee called the executive order an irresponsible and immoral "Obsolete Science Bailout Plan." She pointed out that scientists won't be required to help one patient or develop one treatment in order to keep our federal tax-dollars coming in to fund failed research on that destroys human lives.

Bordlee also expressed concern that the new federal funding will increase the exploitive market of egg harvesting to create embryos, which typically involves injecting cash-strapped college women with high doses of hormones that endangers their lives and their ovarian health.

The executive order claims that it will increase funding for the study of privately created embryonic stem cell lines, but not the direct destruction of human embryos. Efforts in Congress are now underway to repeal the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which currently prohibits the use of federal tax dollars for the actual creation and destruction of human embryos. If Dickey-Wicker is repealed, federal tax dollars could be used to fund human embryo cloning and the creation of IVF human embryos for the sole purpose of their destruction.

See the next tabs to learn about the FEDERAL COURT CHALLENGE, and the facts showing that the President had a MISSED OPPORTUNITY to unite the nation behind an ethical stem cell method hailed as a breakthrough in the science world.  

Missed Opportunity: The Obama "Obsolete Science Bailout Plan"

Bioethics Defense Fund has compiled the following facts that President Obama chose to ignore in his missed opportunity to bring the nation together for aggressive, effective and ethical research:

  • The stem-cell wars experienced an unexpected cease-fire shortly after President Bush vetoed expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in early 2007. It was not because of any new-found common respect for the moral status of the human embryo. Rather, the solution came from science itself.

  • In November 2007, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin reported that they had reprogrammed regular human skin cells to behave just like human embryonic stem cells. Scientists across the globe hailed the breakthrough method that created patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells) without the controversial use of embryos, cloning or the use of human eggs.

  • The unexpected breakthrough was rated first in Time magazine's "10 Best Scientific Discoveries of 2007." It was rated the number two Breakthrough of the Year by the journal Science. It led Dr. Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, to abandon his U.K. license to attempt the cloning of human embryos for destructive research. Dr. Wilmut said that these researchers "... may have achieved what no politician could: an end to the embryonic stem-cell debate."

  • At the end of September 2008, researchers at Harvard University overcame "a major obstacle to using [this] promising alternative to embryonic stem cells, bolstering the prospects of bypassing the ethical and political tempest that has embroiled hopes for new medical treatments." Wash Post, 9/26/2008.

  • Just one week before the President signed the executive order, the Washington Post reported on ips advances as "what appears to be a safer way to create a promising alternative to embryonic stem cells, boosting hopes that such cells could sidestep the moral and political quagmire that has hindered the development of a new generation of cures."

  • A March 4, 2009 article in U.S. News & World Report by former NIH head Dr. Bernadine Healy is entitled "Why Embryonic Stem Cells are Obsolete." Dr. Healy explains that "in the first six weeks of Obama's term, several events reinforced the notion that embryonic stem cells, once thought to hold the cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes, are obsolete. The most sobering: a report from Israel published in PLoS Medicine in late February that shows embryonic stem cells injected into patients can cause disabling if not deadly tumors."

  • On March 9, 2009, despite the opportunity to use the advances of science to unite the nation, President Obama signed an executive order authoring tax-dollars to be used to fund the creation of an unlimited number of stem cell lines, which can only be created from the destruction of living human embryos.  This ideological action opens the door to the repeal of the Dickey-Wicker amendment so that researchers can use our tax dollars to clone and kill human embryos, and to create IVF human embryos solely for the purpose of destroying them.

  • Meanwhile, the number of clinical trials and varying degrees of clinical success in treating diseases with NON-EMBRYONIC stem cells has increased steadily. The number of treatments using embryonic stem cells?

    Still zero

    Fact Sheet: Does Research really need human embryos and human cloning?

    See the BDF-Westchester Institute Resource created in consultation with stem cell scientist Dr. Maureen Condic, who serves as BDF's science advisor:

    © Copyright 2013. Bioethics Defense Fund - All rights reserved.  Content may be reproduced with attribution to Bioethics Defense Fund and a link to the original post.

    Web design and content management system by IDEAS4