California Bill Would Promote Embryonic Stem Cell Research

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Bill Would Promote Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
August 2, 2003

Sacamento, CA ( — It may sound like science fiction, but it is an all-too disturbing political reality in California: a legislative move to take the West Coast state further down the troubling road of embryonic stem cell research.

A bill now before the California legislature would require the state Department of Health Services to set up and maintain an anonymous registry of embryos so that scientists would have access to embryos for their research.

The proposal, SB 771, is strongly opposed by pro-life groups, who describe it as a further assault on innocent human life.

"It has all the earmarks of a state-run ‘spare parts department’ for human beings, once again holding out false hopes to those afflicted with health problems," said Camille Giglio, Director of the California Right to Life Committee (CRLC).

In embryonic stem cell research, stem cells are harvested from human embryos, who are then killed. Pro-life activists say that not only is such research inherently immoral, but there is also little evidence such experimentation will result in the cure of any diseases.

CRLC is encouraging the state’s residents to write to the chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Darrell Steinberg, and urge a "no" vote on SB 771.

According CRLC, SB 771 "is a vehicle to advance an agenda advocating that human life is dispensable at its earliest stages. Embryonic stem cell research and the establishment of a registry (to facilitate public or private research) denigrates human life. It becomes a commodity and, if not used, can be disposed of."

"One option for the donor is to allow the unused embryo to be thawed with no further action. This is a death sentence for the little boy or girl with a heart beat and fingerprints," the pro-life organization says.

Giglio notes that a number of the organizations that are supporting the embryo registry also lobby to keep abortion legal. Pro-registry groups include the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and SOW (Status of Women).

California pro-life groups insist they are not trying to stand in the way of scientific research. Rather, they just want to ensure that such research is conducted in an ethical, life-affirming way.

The California Right to Life Committee, for instance, "does support adult stem cell research which is presently providing positive results for men, women, and children suffering from serious diseases." The pro-life group contends that public money should be used to advance adult stem cell research, rather than research that destroys lives.

Giglio also points out that, while the money used to support the proposed embryo registry can only come from private sources, the program would be developed, maintained, and directed by the state. Therefore, the ultimate cost to California taxpayers is unknown.

Last fall, Governor Gray Davis, who supports abortion, signed legislation legalizing stem cell research from any source, including human embryos. At the time, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-6th District), said, "The passage of this bill encourages researchers and scientists to invest time and money towards this research in California."

Pro-life activists, however, say California would be far better off without such research.