Proposition 71 was approved late Wednesday morning, one day after George W. Bush was re-elected. With 97 percent of the votes counted, the measure won by a 59 percent margin.
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. Proposition 71 was proposed to generate state funding for the embryonic stem cell research project.
Califonia will use $3 billion from tax-free state bonds in a period of 10 year to fund for the project. Starting in 2005, California’s $300 million in municipal bonds will be used each year, giving a projection of about $6 billion for taxpayers to payback over 30 years.
Opponents told Reuters that the bonds could lead to a further decline in California's credit rating, higher taxes, and a depletion of funds for other state services to pay off the massive debts. In addition to that, they also claim the promise of stem cells is far off in the future, and the research requires destruction of human life.
“This was an empty promise to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases,” said Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families. “The biotech and pharmaceutical companies that could not attract private investors decided to fool the electorate into giving them $3 billion with no accountability for performance.”
In Embryonic stem cell research, stem cells of tiny embryos are harvested and the embryos are later destroyed. Pro-life groups explain that any method which involves the destruction of a living being is unethical. Instead, they support adult stem cell research which can avoid the death of the embryos.
Proposition 71 was funded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists and film industry moguls. Last month, Film star Mel Gibson, also Director of “Passion of the Christ,” said during an interview on “Good Morning America” that he does not support stem cell research but would support adult stem cell research.
"I found that the cloning of human embryos will be used in the process and that, for me, I have an ethical problem with that," he said. "Why do I, as a taxpayer, have to fund something I believe is unethical?"
Gibson’s support, a $64,000 mailing to 180,000 California families by Focus on the Family and the opposition of various conservative groups did not derail passage of Proposition 71, which out-funded opponents’ efforts by about 100 to 1, Thomasson said.
“This is the worst law that California has ever passed,” Thomasson said. “Proposition 71 makes cloning a constitutional right and soaks the taxpayers for $6 billion to engage in junk science that has not healed anyone or cured a single disease.”
Thomasson added, “This cloning law reduces the value of every human being, saying some humans are expendable. We will all suffer financially and morally for this great error California voters have committed.”