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Stem-Cell Opponents Lose Court Round

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - A judge dismissed a lawsuit from the Missouri Roundtable for Life, which wanted to block $21 million in state money from going to stem-cell research. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan found that no legal dispute existed and that the lawsuit amounted to a request for an advisory opinion.

The Roundtable said it will appeal and threatened to sue anyone who receives research grants from the money, which the group claims could go toward embryonic stem-cell research.

Lawmakers budgeted the $21 million to flow from the Life Sciences Research Trust Fund to the Life Sciences Research Board, which will distribute the money through grants.

The law establishing the fund prohibits spending for abortion services and human cloning, but stem-cell research opponents claim a 2006 constitutional amendment may trump the human cloning exclusion.

The amendment, approved by voters, guarantees that stem-cell research that is legal under federal law can be conducted in Missouri.

Roundtable attorneys argued that the state law establishing the fund and how it was to be used are linked, so if the 2006 amendment trumped the restrictions, then it also trumped the fund.

Judge Callahan disagreed, ruling that the clause requiring the trust fund to be eliminated if the restrictions are removed applies only if the research limits are declared invalid or unconstitutional.

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