New Jersey Residents Oppose Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Residents Oppose Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 16, 2004

Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — According to a poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, a majority of New Jersey voters disagree with Governor James McGreevy’s $50 million proposal to fund a New Jersey institute for human stem cell research.

Between February 29 and March 7, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,210 New Jersey registered voters, and found that 48 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the Governor’s plan, while only 42 percent agreed with the idea. Only Democrats and urban residents were more likely to agree with McGreevy, while all other segments of the population did not approve of the taxpayer-funded program.

Governor McGreevey has proposed spending $6.5 million of state money for a stem-cell research institute, which would be managed Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Marie Tasy, director of public and legislative affairs for New Jersey Right to Life, said research using "adult" stem cells from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow and other sources has been proven to work and is ethically sound. However, embryonic stem cell research relies on the destruction of human life, sometimes created through cloning, in order to harvest the stem cells.

Tasy said the embryonic stem cell research can open up "a new exploitation of women," noting that South Korean scientists super-ovulated 16 women to obtain 242 eggs, which resulted in only one stem cell line.

Somatic nuclear transplantation, the technique used to create the embryos as well as create human clones, is the same method used to clone Dolly the sheep.

Tasy pointed out that Dolly was the result after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.

"While this may or may not be acceptable for animals, it certainly should not be acceptable for human children, said Tasy. "There is no reason to exploit women and create human life to destroy it when adult and cord blood stem cells are accessible and are being successfully used to treat human patients."

Human cloning for experimentation, as well as the allowance of "reasonable payment” for embryonic or cadaveric fetal tissue production, implantation, transplantation and preservation costs, is now legal up until newborn stages in New Jersey.

Governor McGreevy signed the legislation into law in January, and is now seeking taxpayer funding for the research.

Tasy says pro-life advocates in New Jersey feel betrayed.

"Sponsors of the bill, the Biotech Industry and the Governor, engaged in a highly deceptive misinformation campaign claiming that the research on human embryos would be limited to those already existing from left over fertility treatments and boldly denied they would attempt to publicly fund it," said Tasy.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D-Union) announced plans Friday to create a non-profit organization to raise $3 billion to fund stem-cell research in New Jersey. In a conference call with reporters he said he has already received "a tremendous response" from corporations and institution in the Garden State, and plans will be discussed further at a "stem cell summit" in the spring.

Gary Friedman, a transplant surgeon assisting Cohen, compared their joint enterprise to the project that created the atomic bomb.

"It’s almost like the Manhattan Project," said Friedman, who heads the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Morristown Memorial Hospital. "You want to put together the most resources with the best research minds.

Related Sites:
New Jersey Right to Life – https://www.njrtl.org