(July 2, 2008) On May 29, 2008, following a close vote, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court approved the use of embryonic stem cells to conduct research for finding cures for new diseases. The ruling was in response to a petition filed in 2005 by Claudio Fontelles, the Attorney General at the time, arguing the constitutionality of Law No. 11,105 of March 24, 2005, that allows the use of stem cells for research.
Many ethics groups and the Catholic Church opposed the measure, arguing that it violates the right to life, while other groups in favor of the research, including the government, defended the research, as it will enable the regeneration of damaged organs and the treatment of many diseases. In the end, six Justices voted in favor of the use of stem cells, while the remaining five voted against it. Researchers now are allowed to conduct research on human embryos that have been kept frozen for at least three years, are considered unsuitable for human reproduction, and were going to be discarded. (Por Seis Votos a Cinco, STF Aprova Pesquisas com Células-Tronco Embrionárias, O GLOBO (O)NLINE, May 30, 2008, available at http://oglobo.globo.com/ciencia/mat/2008/05/29/por_seis_votos_cinco_stf_aprova_