California Stem Cell Research Measure Challenged

More than $125,000 collected to battle against Proposition 71 - a bill that would use spend billions of taxpayer dollars on embryonic stem cell research
( [email protected] ) Sep 10, 2004 01:53 PM EDT

The Roman Catholic Church and the wealthy evangelical Christian Howard Ahmanson Jr. have financially supported a campaign that opposes the recent California ballot measure that would allow California to approve proposition 71 which will spend billions of taxpayer dollars on embryonic stem cell research and cloning projects. Each contributed $50,000 last week to separate campaign groups, bringing the total to $125,000 combined.

Supporters of the campaign say that proposition 71 would allow the destruction of days-old human embryos, which is a violation of human rights.

"We believe life begins at the moment of conception," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. "Stem cell research involves the taking of a human life."

Some women's groups also oppose the research because of its insatiable need for fertilized eggs, most of which are now donated by fertility clinics with surplus supplies.

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 to close the stem cell research funding gap. The initiative, if it passes, 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.