Connecticut Lawmakers, Catholic Church Spar Over Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Connecticut Lawmakers, Catholic Church Spar Over Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 3, 2005

Hartford, CT ( — Last month, Connecticut’s governor called for the state to spend millions on unproven embryonic stem cell research. Now, lawmakers and Catholic officials are sparing on the details associated with stem cell research and whether taxpayer money should be spent on it.

State lawmaker Larry Miller credits adult stem cell research with saving his life from multiple myeloma. In 1998, he was given three to five years to live but is still going strong thanks to an experimental procedure involving stem cells taken from his own body.

However, Miller also wants to see research using more controversial stem cells obtained from human embryos, even though two decades of study has yet to cure a single patient.

Miller, told the Bristol Press newspaper he’s upset with officials from the Connecticut Catholic Conference and claims they are distorting the debate.

"I am so frustrated by the amount of misinformation that has been disseminated to the public and the state legislators about this issue, especially information distributed by some members of the Catholic church," Miller told the Press.

"Unfortunately, embryonic stem cell research is still closely associated to abortion," Miller said. "And as a result, it remains a political lightning rod."

David Reynolds of the Connecticut Catholic Conference said stem cell research is a wonderful idea but human embryos should not be destroyed to obtain stem cells.

"We are opposed to it as the destruction of human life in its earliest stages," Reynolds told the Bristol newspaper.

He said the focus should remain on the use of adult stem cells which have produced treatments for 98 diseases so far by using cells from ethical sources.

Last year, Miller co-sponsored legislation that would put the state on record in favor of the research. It passed in the Senate but died in the state House.

Miller plans to reintroduce the bill and Governor Jodi Rell says Connecticut should spend millions of dollars of this year’s state budget surplus towards the controversial research.

Rell said she wants to use $10 to $20 million of the surplus on stem cell research, even though the deficit for fiscal year 2005-05 is projected to be anywhere from $600 million to $1.3 billion.