**UPDATE: A Justice Department Spokesman tells Fox News the DOJ will file an appeal "soon" on the ruling in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.**
The White House is examining a federal judge's decision that would block President Obama's 2009 Executive Order expanding embryonic stem cell research as well as perhaps reversing a previous order by former President George W. Bush on stem cell research.
"We're still reviewing the decision from this judge, but what we've seen so far -- from what we can tell, this would also stop the research that President Bush had allowed to go forward early in his presidency," Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters traveling with the president in Martha's Vineyard. "So we're exploring all possible avenues to make sure that we can continue to do this critical, lifesaving research."
The ruling, issued by Judge Royce Lamberth, means an immediate disruption to any research currently being done on stem cells, and has the potential to even reverse some of the Bush decision on stem cells which allowed federal money to be used on already established lines of stem cells for research.
Opponents to stem cell research hailed the opinion."The American people should not be forced to pay for experiments--prohibited by federal law--that destroy human life. The court is simply enforcing an existing law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden said on the ADF website in response to the ruling Monday afternoon. "No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. Experimentation on embryonic stem cells isn't even necessary because adult stem cell research has been enormously successful. In economic times like we are in now, it doesn't make sense for the federal government to use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose."
Burton said regardless of opposition, the Executive Order had stringent ethical guidelines and the president believes in his decision.
"The president said very plainly when he laid out his stem cell policy that this is important, lifesaving -- potentially lifesaving research that can have an impact on millions of Americans and people all the world." 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 said.
The ruling is a blow to the Obama administration's decision to expand federal funding, announced after only two months in office. The order tripled the number of stem cell lines being researched, up from 21 under the Bush administration. At the time, President Obama said his decision was reached after much discussion and debate, as well as reflection on his faith.
"In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research -- and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly," Obama said in March 2009 at the signing of the Executive Order.
"It's a difficult and delicate balance. And many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research. And I understand their concerns, and I believe that we must respect their point of view."
The Executive Order allowed stem cells to be used for research into Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and certain forms of cancer. The order was challenged by two doctors and private group seeking to preserve about 400,000 embryos that could be used for adoption.
The ruling is only a preliminary injunction but the final ruling will be issued by the same judge and experts say is likely to say the ban on federal funding issued 14 years ago by Congress should stand. If that were the case, Congress will have to change the law, rather than the president issuing a new executive order.
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