California Residents Will Likely Vote on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Residents Will Likely Vote on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
April 21, 2004

Sacramento, CA ( — The "disease lobby" and big-league Hollywood backers are teaming up to bring anti-life medical research to the California ballot.

More than a million signatures have been collected on petitions to put an embryonic stem cell proposal before California voters. The large number of signatures indicates the issue is likely to appear on the ballot.

Under the proposal, the West Coast state would become the only state in the U.S. to fund fetal stem cell research.

A spokeswoman for a group called Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures told the San Jose Mercury News, "Families of sick people were the driving force behind putting this measure on the ballot. They gathered the signatures and funded it."

In actuality, many of those families have ties to Hollywood — and Hollywood money.

The producer of the movie "Gladiator," Douglas Wick, and the director of "Ghost," Jerry Zucker, are both behind the campaign to raise $3 billion for fetal stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human embryos.

Housing developer Robert Klein has also contributed a half-million dollars to the effort. His son has juvenile diabetes.

In mounting their campaign, Klein, Zucker, and Wick are trying to sell Californians on a false hope, according to experts in the field of stem cell research.

The initial research using embryonic stem cells has proven disastrous. Groups such as Life Issues Institute and Do No Harm, a coalition of scientific researchers, say that adult stem cell research holds greater promise in curing diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s.

Life Issues Institute president Dr. Jack Willke recently wrote, "Embryonic stem cells are obtained from four-day-old living human embryos. This tiny human is cut open and embryonic stem cells are extracted from him or her.

"The process directly kills a four-day-old human. Because of this direct killing, the method of ‘harvesting’ these cells has been roundly condemned by traditional ethicists," Willke added.

Adult stem cell research does not involve the killing of human embryos.

"The use of adult stem cells is ethical and beneficial. Obtaining and using embryonic stem cells is unethical, as it requires the direct killing of an innocent human," Willke wrote.

The stem cell research proposal would fund a new institute at one of the University of California campuses, as well as laboratory projects at other colleges.

A number of states are facing pressure from the "disease lobby" to promote embryonic stem cell research. The groups are often fronted by well-known celebrities who try to advance the cause, such as paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve and actress Mary Tyler Moore, who has diabetes.

But pro-life advocates in California are expected to fight back in an effort to preserve innocent human life. A counter-campaign to the expensive ballot initiative is expected to be mounted.

In addition, a measure sponsored by California Assemblywoman Sharon Runner would repeal a law that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an advisory committee to write guidelines for research that destroys human embryos in order to remove their stem cells for research.

That research could involve both cloned human embryos and those left over from infertility programs.

The repeal effort has the support of California Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger, who sees it as an unfounded mandate. The bill was originally signed into law by former pro-abortion Governor Gray Davis.

Related web sites:

California Pro-Life Council –
Do No Harm –
Life Issues Institute –