Illinois Newspaper Editorial Opposes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Plan

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Newspaper Editorial Opposes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Plan Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 3, 2004

Bloomington, IL ( — The Pantagraph newspaper covering central Illinois has issued an editorial calling into question a proposal by State Comptroller Dan Hynes seeking creation of 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.

"As tempting as it sounds, Illinois residents should not quickly accept" the Hynes plan, the newspaper wrote.

The Pantagraph cites similar concerns that California residents who voted for a $6 billion proposal raised, namely fiscal issues.

"Illinois is already trying to fill a $2 million funding gap this year. The state can’t afford new programs at this time," the Pantagraph wrote.

With that in mind, the paper said it was unfair to make state legislators who support research to help cure diseases appear that they oppose helping people because of monetary concerns.

"If they say "No," then they’re branded as against research that "may" be a cure for such things as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s," the editorial said.

The Pantagraph said campaigns for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research are "based largely on emotion, less on proven scientific data."

While the research funds are supposedly covered by the cosmetic surgery tax, the newspaper is skeptical.

"That sounds good, but we would like to see some figures proving the tax would be sufficient. If Hynes is wrong, it is taxpayers who are left to pay off the borrowed money," the Pantagraph editors said.

The newspaper is also concerned that the proposal would fail to increase economic development or attract researchers and biotech companies to the state and noted that several states have started similar proposals in the wake of the California ballot measure.

"If the trend continues, what would make Illinois unique enough to attract more research facilities," the paper asked.

Hynes’ 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."

However, pro-life groups would likely oppose it because it includes embryonic stem cell research which involves the destruction of human life. The support adult stem cell research instead.

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.