California Embryonic Stem Cell Research Proposition Battle Heats Up

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

California Embryonic Stem Cell Research Proposition Battle Heats Up

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
August 9, 2004

Sacramento, CA ( — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is straddling the political fence, when it comes to a ballot issue to fund the controversial practice of embryonic stem cell research.

Political analysts now say the Republican Governor may not take a position on Proposition 71, a bond issue that would offer $3 billion for scientific experiments involving the destruction of human embryos.

Observers say Schwarzenegger runs the risk of alienating voters if he takes a position on the measure, which is being funded by venture capitalists, Hollywood moguls, and a biotech lobby made up of groups such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The Foundation has donated at least a half-million dollars to the ballot issue campaign.

However, Schwarzenegger, a Catholic, has indicated he supports embryonic stem cell research, even though the Catholic Church opposes it on the grounds that it represents the taking of a human life.

Still, Proposition 71 is a costly proposition which could be opposed by some conservatives strictly on financial grounds. It would provide $300 million for research each year for ten years, but it would cost $6 billion to pay back at a time when the state is having significant financial troubles.

Proposition 71 opponent Art Croney told the Associated Press, "We are not sure where he (Schwarzenegger) is. There’s a tremendous public relations campaign underway that is hard to ignore."

If Schwarzenegger endorses the ballot measure, he would also be opposing Republican President George W. Bush, who opposes the expansion of embryonic stem cell research.

The ballot measure’s big-money backers include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; venture capitalist John Doerr, who has a large stake in the Google search engine firm; and Golden West Financial Corp. executives Marion and Herbert Sandler, who are backing Democrat John Kerry’s Presidential run.

Kerry supports embryonic stem cell research.

On the other side is a group called Doctors, Patients & Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility, which views the ballot plan as a giveaway program for the biotech industry.

According to the advocacy group’s website, "The money that will flow to large research institutions under Proposition 71 is truly staggering. Organizations and institutions are already in position to be first in line."

Other opponents include a number of religious and pro-family groups, which say embryonic stem cell research is not only unethical — but risky as well.

"Private investors are steering clear of this kind of research," Carrie Gordon Earll told the Chicago Tribune. "In California they are asking voters to spend money to prop up a financially risky business."

She added, "Saying you favor stem cell research is like saying you are for world peace. Everybody is for world peace. The question is what road you are willing to take to get there. We absolutely favor stem cell research, but we oppose the destruction of embryos to achieve that."

Gordon Earll added that too little attention is being focused on the breakthroughs achieved through adult stem cell research, which does not involve the destruction of embryos.

"The blind are seeing and the lame are walking because of adult stem cells," Gordon Earll told the Tribune.

Related web sites:
Doctors, Patients & Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility –
Focus on the Family –