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Measure Funding Millions to Embryonic Stem-cell Research Heads to California Ballot

Californian voters will vote on Proposition 71 this November to decide whether the state should fund millions of dollars to build a embryonic stem-cell research facility.
( [email protected] ) Aug 03, 2004 09:01 PM EDT

In November, Californian voters will decide on Proposition 71, a measure which will allow state funding for a multibillion-dollar facility to conduct embryonic stem-cell research. As the ballot deadline approaches, opposing campaigns in the debate are competing to raise funds to win voter support.

As of July 29, the “California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act” campaign have raised $7 million in their effort to pass Prop. 71. Contributions to support embryonic stem-cell research have mostly come from Silicon Valley venture capitalists such as the CEO of Google Inc.

The opposition campaign committee, the Doctors, Patients & Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility, and an association of California Roman Catholic churches have raised less than $50,000 according to a spokeswoman.

"This is going to be a real David versus Goliath fight," said spokeswoman Carol Hogan.

Backers of Proposition 71 hope the campaign will continue its momentum especially after Ron Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, endorsed embryonic stem-cell research during a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week.

Although embryonic stem-cell research is not illegal, it is not funded by the federal government in accordance to Bush’s policy to limit embryonic stem-cell research to stem-cell lines produced before August 9, 2001.

If passed, the ballot measure would amend the state constitution to create the state-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to regulate and fund stem-cell research. The state would give $300 million in bonds for stem-cell research for 10 years. The bonds would be repaid over 30 years at a cost of $6 billion.

Supporters of embyronic stem-cell research believe funding will allow scientists to develop ground-breaking cures for diseases such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

However, experts say hopes in embryonic stem-cell research are only a promise at this stage since the research has not resulted in any cures thus far. On the other hand, adult stem-cell research has shown more promise, already leading to cures for 45 diseases, according to the National Institute of Health.

The stem-cell debate has also been deemed controversial by religious conservatives and pro-family as well as pro-life groups, who harvesting stem cells from embryos would amount to murder.