Mass. Budget Bill Passes Without Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mass. Budget Bill Passes Without Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
November 20, 2003

Boston, MA ( — A provision in the Massachusetts Senate’s economic stimulus plan that would have allowing taxpayer funding for stem-cell research in the state was removed from the final version yesterday sent to Governor Mitt Romney.

Pro-life groups were concerned when lawmakers earlier inserted the pro-funding language into the bill, without proposing it as separate legislation for an up or down vote.

“This was a prudent move on the part of our [pro-life] lawmakers,” Marie Sturgis, Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told

“Burying what is recognized as a highly controversial issue in a piece of legislation would have been deceptive and dangerous. If approved, the bill would have nullified existing law and given a blank check to the biotech industry for human experimentation without a word of public debate," Sturgis added.

Earlier this month the Senate had passed their version of the economic plan 37-3. Since the House had already passed their own version in July, the two plans had to be combined in a compromise plan.

Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), one of the three opposing votes, said that according to a memo from Rich Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "This is the most disturbing and incoherent bill he has ever seen. We would become a laughingstock if we pass this mess."

Senator Marian Walsh (D-Boston) had seen the provision as unnecessary, as the state is already "second to none" in biotechnology research and shouldn’t be using "human life for research material.”

Rep. Mark Carron (D-Southbridge) told the stem cell research provision would create "disdain and distaste" when he first heard of the Senate’s plan to attach stem cell research to their economic stimulus package.

"I think it would be a mistake to isolate and identify stem cell research from the biotechnology industry as a whole," said Rep. Carron said. "It adds controversy to something for which we all need to be working toward together."

President Bush has prohibited the use of federal research money for any new destructive human embryo research, so the proposal would not have aided Massachusetts in getting more federal assistance.

Related web sites:
Massachusetts Citizens for Life –