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Stem Cell Research Hits Pro-Life Roadblock: Is Science Really Stopping "Snowflake Adoptions?"

stem cell research
AP
(AP)

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) The long road to stem cell therapy just hit a roadblock.

On Monday, a U.S. judge temporarily blocked President Obama's plan to expand stem cell research, in part because a Christian group argued that regulations would decrease the number of frozen embryos available for adoption.

There are currently around 400,000 frozen embryos stored in American fertility clinics, although only a fraction of them are available for either adoption or research.

Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the group in the lawsuit, told CBS News they have successfully completed only 250 "adoptions" of frozen embryos since they started in 1998.

Still, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that the plaintiffs - including Nighlight, two adult stem cell researchers and other Christian groups - could proceed with their lawsuit against the government and ordered the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) to halt their efforts to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Currently, the NIH is allowed to fund research on embryonic stem cells created before 2001. It can also fund research on adult stem cells, which are generally less adaptive than those taken from embryos, but have fewer moral implications.

Proponents of embryonic stem cell research hope the science will one day lead to cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other disorders. Opponents believe the process of extracting the stem cells, which destroys the embryo, is morally wrong.

"This is about something much more important than money," Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight, told CBS News. "By destroying the embryos we believe you are destroying a pre-born child. And that violates federal law."

The plaintiffs also argued that if the government expanded funding for embryonic stem cell research, it would have to pull funding from adult stem cell research. They argued the government does not have the right to do that.

Over the last decade, Nighlight has received about $2 million from the federal government, according to Stoddart. He says the current lawsuit did not use any of those funds.

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