Illinois Official Proposes $1 Billion Measure Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Official Proposes $1 Billion Measure Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 24, 2004

Springfield, IL ( — Just days after the Illinois state legislature voted down a bill that would have authorized the use of human cloning for research and allowed research conducted using tissue from abortions, an Illinois official is proposing a bond measure that would spend taxpayer dollars for unproven embryonic stem cell research.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes on Tuesday proposed creating a state-funded stem cell research center that would be paid for with a $1 billion bond funded in part through tax increases on elective cosmetic surgery.

The Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute would give out $100 million annually in grants and loans to research universities and medical facilities conducting both embryonic and adult stem cell research.

However, the proposal may be difficult to get final approval.

State lawmakers must approve the tax increase on cosmetic surgery such as Botox injections and liposuctions and voters must approve the bond on the 2006 ballot.

Hynes said the promise stem cell research holds could sway lawmakers and voters.

"By a wide margin, across the political and religious spectrum, the public overwhelmingly supports stem-cell research, and I believe when called upon they will support this proposal as well," Hynes claimed.

Hynes said that if the cosmetic surgery tax is approved it could generate millions to use to start the facility ahead of the vote on the bond issue.

The proposal is already finding support from some key legislators.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, a Republican from Oswego, told the Chicago Tribune that he backs the idea saying, "It’s the right thing to do."

According to the Tribune Hynes was joined at the news conference to announce the idea by researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Children’s Memorial Hospital, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The stem cell research agency would be modeled on the new one created by California voters when they approved a $6 billion initiative to use taxpayer money for the unproven research.

Pro-life groups support the use of adult stem cells, but oppose embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life.

While adult stem cells have produced more than 120 treatments for diseases and ailments, embryonic stem cells have yet to cure a single patient after two decades of research.

Scientists also say that adult stem cells can also be just as useful as embryonic stem cells and researchers have discovered at least 14 different types of adult stem cells.

Almost "every other week there’s another interesting finding of adult [stem] cells turning into neurons or blood cells or heart muscle cells," notes molecular biologist Eric Olson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.