California Stem Cell Research Funding Battle Enters Final Stages

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Stem Cell Research Funding Battle Enters Final Stages Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 28, 2004

Sacramento, CA ( — Leading abortion advocacy groups and a coalition of groups opposed to Proposition 71 are doing battle in the fight over whether or not to approve a ballot measure in California that would cost the state billions in taxpayer dollars for unproven embryonic stem cell research that destroys human lives.

Provoked by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of Proposition 71 and the millions of dollars in ads promoting it, Catholic officials and other religious leaders are weighing in on the debate in opposition.

The Rev. Jonathan Zachariou, a minister at Davis Christian Assembly Church doesn’t usually speak up on political issues, but he feels the need to rebut Schwarzenegger’s comments.

"I don’t think my voice has as much influence," Zachariou told the Sacramento Bee. "But I want my conscience to be clear that I did all I could, that I made as big a noise as I could."

"It’s a human embryo we want to slice and dice," he said. "It has parallels to Nazi Germany in a sense because we are saying the ends justify the means."

Meanwhile, a leading pro-abortion group endorsed the measure this week, though the ballot proposal has nothing to do with abortion.

The California chapter of NARAL backed the measure saying Proposition 71 would "develop lifesaving therapies and cures for diseases that could save the lives of millions of California children and adults."

California NARAL said the research "holds the promise of new therapies and cures" for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, even though leading Alzheimer’s researchers say the disease is too complex to likely be benefited from stem cell research.

Other pro-abortion groups such as California NOW, Catholics for Free Choice, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Planned Parenthood have backed the costly proposal.

Others oppose the measure, which would cost the state $6 billion.

Marcy Darnovsky, executive director for the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, held a press conference this week saying the measure will exploit women and would be too costly.

The California Nurses Association has also been a leading opponent of Proposition 71.

CNA’s President Deborah Burger, RN, warns that the measure would set a poor national standard for the research. She decried secret meetings that would govern the distribution of research grants.

"Oversight is given to a private committee that decides which programs are funded and who owns the patents, with no public accountability," Burger said. "Pharmaceutical and biotech giants are almost certain to get the patents, with no assurance that benefits are returned to the public."

Proposition 71 supporters have bankrolled $24 million in cash from special interests while those opposed to the measure are airing ads with only thousands of dollars behind them.

Polls show the measure with a slight lead among California voters.

Related web sites:
California Nurses Association –
Proposition 71 Voters’ Guide –
California Catholic Conference –