Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, will appear on the State's November 2004 ballot. Advocates of the initiative gathered some 1 million signatures to support funding for the research. Opponents answered back by saying Proposition 71 is bad morally and fiscally for the people of California.
What makes stem cell research so controversial in the public is its moral implication on the killing of human embryos.
Many scientists claim embryonic stem cells, derived from excess embryos created during in-vitro fertilization, have the potential to cure spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's and many other diseases. Opponents contend the promise of stem cells is far off in the future, and the research requires destruction of human life.
Currently, there is no state level funding for stem cell research and political roadblocks have severely limited federal funding for the project. In response to this situation, a coalition of California families and medical experts introduced Proposition 71 in effort of closing the stem cell research funding gap. The initiative will generate $3 billion from tax-free state bonds in a period of 10 year to fund the stem cell research, including therapeutic cloning, a process that involves the cloning of an embryo for the purpose of harvesting its stem cells.
Opponents argue that Proposition 71 would force California tax payers to pay for the destruction of human life because the end result of therapeutic cloning is the death of the embryo.
"When you pass laws authorizing the creation of human life that must be destroyed, you transform that form of humanity into a commodity," California bioethicist Wesley J. Smith told Christianity Today.
Pro-lifers have claimed that the written language of Proposition 71 is somewhat ambiguous in term of interpreting to the public the fate of human embryos that will be used in therapeutic cloning research. For instance, embryonic stem cell is called by its scientific name, “pluripotent stem cell” and embryos from fertility clinics are referred as “surplus products of in vitro fertilization.”
In sum, pro-lifers question whether the public understand what therapeutic cloning is or Proposition 71 makers only seek constitutional rights to conduct research into human cloning. The cloning aspect of the initiative has been overlooked by the media.
One other reason that opponents of Proposition 71 provided is money. They argued that funding for the project would increase the state’s debt in addition to its already damaged economy.