A federal district judge ruled that US President Obama's 2009 executive order that allowed for federal funds to be used to study an increased number of human embryonic stem cell lines violates a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos, reports the New York Times. That ban, called the Dickey-Wicker amendment is passed each year by Congress and it disallows federal funds to be used for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." Chief Judge Royce Lamberth wrote that the distinction made in the Obama policy between the work that destroys the embryos and the work using the results of that was "meaningless," according to the Times. "If one step or 'piece of research' of an E.S.C. research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding," Lamberth wrote.
The judge said that federal policy should return to the "status quo." The Times adds that few officials seemed to know what that meant and that the decision is being reviewed by the Justice Department. "This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs doing this work since the Obama administration made its order," Children's Hospital Boston's George Daley tells the Times.