EBay Founder to Spend 1M on California Embryonic Stem Cell Research
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 20, 2004
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The founder of Ebay has placed an opening bid of $1 million for California’s controversial ballot campaign for embryonic stem cell research.
Billionaire Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pamela donated the money to Proposition 71, which would make $3 billion of taxpayer funds available for the research, which involves the destruction of live human embryos.
The ballot drive is backed by a number of venture capitalists and Hollywood moguls, who claim that embryonic stem cell research, or ESCR, would benefit patients who suffer from a variety of diseases, from diabetes to Alzheimer’s.
On the other side are pro-life groups and religious organizations, which say that ESCR is never morally justified because it involves the taking of an innocent human life. They also note that the destructive research has never been used effectively to treat disease.
Even some feminist groups oppose the research because they worry some women may be exploited as researchers race to find donated eggs for embryonic experiments.
The $3 billion bond issue would make nearly $300 million available each year over a period of a decade. The money would be available to state universities and biotech companies which conduct ESCR.
The California initiative would forbid cloning embryos to produce babies, but would permit cloning to create human embryos for stem cell research.
Ironically, adult stem cell research, which does not involve embryo destruction, has proven far more promising in combating diseases ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer’s.
The California Pro-Life Council says it supports the vast majority of stem cell research, but opposes experiments which require the ending of a human life.
The Council points out that embryonic stem cell research has resulted in numerous problems, particularly the growth of cancers.
“We have no reason to oppose the majority of stem cell research,” the Council’s executive director, Brian Johnston, said in a May press statement.
“Cord-blood stem cells, muscle stem cells, bone marrow, pancreatic, corneal, neural–there is widespread success in such transplants. This is particularly true amongst auto-donation regimens, where cells from one’s own body have had a marked impact in transforming damaged tissue,” Johnston added.
Adult stem cells also have been used to restore dead heart muscle and even spinal cord damage.
“We applaud this research,” Johnston said. “We would hope that (the) media limelight might focus for a moment on these successes, not only for the sake of those who may be cured by them, but because the ethical use of medicine is something that should be recognized and honored.”
Meanwhile, religious organizations in California are now attempting to educate their members about the destructive nature of embryonic stem cell research.
The California Catholic Conference, for instance, has included extensive information about such research on its website and has prepared a fact sheet on the issue called, “Questions and Answers About Stem Cells and Cloning.”