A federal court ruled that the government can continue financing the research on embryonic stem cells, striking a blow to antiabortion activists who equate the research with murder. Opponents of the research argue that federal funding violates a 1996 law that says the government cannot fund research in which a human embryo is destroyed. A lower court shocked researchers last year when it ruled that President Obama’s expansion of HESC research was illegal and that research could not proceed while the case is pending. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the government can continue financing stem-cell research. Stem cells were first discovered in 1998, and have been heralded for their ability to morph into any type of cells, opening the door for miraculous new treatments. President George W. Bush was the first to permit federal funding for the research.