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White House Wants to Move Forward with Stem Cell Research

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Updated at 5:31 p.m.

In the wake of a federal judge's decision Monday to halt federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the White House said today that President Obama stands by his policy for funding the research and wants to find a way to keep it moving forward.

"We're exploring all possible avenues to make sure that we can continue to do this critical, lifesaving research," White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters today.

The Justice Department said late Tuesday afternoon that it will appeal the ruling sometime this week, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday ruled that the administration's policy of funding embryonic stem cell research violates a federal law that prohibits the destruction of human embryos. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any cell in the body and treat some of the toughest diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson's, but the embryo is necessarily broken up in the process.

"The unambiguous intent of Congress is to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds on 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed,'" the judge wrote in his decision, the Associated Press reported.

The judge's decision potentially freezes more than $200 million worth of stem cell research, CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports. It does not, however, apply to research on adult stem cells or privately funded embryonic stem cell research.

Mr. Obama expanded federal funding for stem cell research upon entering office last year. Under President George W. Bush, the use of taxpayer money was limited to 21 existing stem cell lines. To qualify for federal funding under the Obama administration policy, researchers must prove to the National Institutes of Health that their research meets ethical guidelines.

"The president said very plainly when he laid out his stem cell policy that this is important, potentially lifesaving research that can have an impact on millions of Americans and people all the world," Burton said today. "He thinks that we need to do research. He put forward stringent ethical guidelines. And he thinks that his policy is the right one."

Burton added that the White House believes the judge's decision would also stop the research that Mr. Bush had allowed to go forward early in his presidency.

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