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The Dickey-Wicker Amendment

The Dickey-Wicker Amendment is the name of an appropriation bill rider attached to a bill passed by US Congress in 1995, and signed by former President Bill Clinton, which prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (NYSE:HHS) from using appropriated funds for the creation of human embryos for research purposes or for research in which human embryos are destroyed.  HHS funding includes the funding for the NIH.

  • Technically the Dickey Amendment is a “rider” to other legislation, which amends the original legislation,
  • The rider receives its name from the name of the Congressman that originally introduced the amendment, Representative Jay Dickey,
  • The Dickey amendment language has been added to each of the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations acts for FY97 through FY09.

The original rider can be found in Section 128 of P.L. 104-99.  The wording of the rider is generally the same year after year. For FY09, the wording in Division F, Section 509 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009,(enacted 3/11/09) prohibits HHS, including NIH, from using FY09 appropriated funds:

  • SEC. 509 (a) None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under 45 CFR 46.208(a)(2) and Section 498(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 289g(b)) (Title 42, Section 289g(b), United States Code).
  • (b) For purposes of this section, the term “human embryo or embryos” includes any organism, not protected as a human subject under 45 CFR 46 (the Human Subject Protection regulations) that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes (sperm or egg) or human diploid cells (cells that have two sets of chromosomes, such as somatic cells).

 In 3/09, President Obama issued an executive order which removed the restriction against federal funding of stem cell research. However, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment remained an obstacle for federally-funded researchers seeking to create their own stem cell lines.

As we have all read and listened to these past few days, as of  8/10, part of preliminary motions in Sherley vs. Sebelius, Judge Royce C. Lamberth, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted an injunction against federally funded embryonic stem cell (NYSE:ESC) research on the grounds that the guidelines for ESC research “clearly violate” the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. (HWM and From Wikipedia)