by Steven Ertelt
February 7, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Maryland lawmakers will soon debate whether or not to use taxpayer funds to pay for research involving embryonic stem cells. The measure is modeled after California’s Proposition 71 and would spend $25 million annually on the controversial research.
"I’m sure that it’s going to be a tremendous battle," Sen. Paula Hollinger, a Baltimore Democrat, told the Washington Post.
She heads the committee that will hear the bill in the state Senate, where pro-life lawmakers hope to stage a filibuster on the Senate floor to block it.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, also a Democrat, says he expects the legislature to approve the bill, which obtains the research funds from money obtained in tobacco settlement lawsuits intended for health care.
The fate of the legislation, however, is likely in the hands of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who has yet to take a position on the measure or stem cell research.
Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell told the Post that the governor would examine the bill and "remains very sympathetic to the biotech companies in Maryland."
Ehrlich cast three votes on the issue of human cloning during the 2001 session of Congress, according to the National Right to Life Committee. He voted in favor of a complete ban on all forms of human cloning — including for research purposes. Ehrlich also voted against two weakening amendments.
The governor also calls President Bush’s policy against federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research a "positive step" in a letter to constituents, the Post reported.
Maryland Right to Life opposes the bill because funds would go towards human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life.
"A lot of confusion surrounds this bill, because some legislators who oppose cloning say they will support this bill," the group said in a statement. "They do not understand that stem cell research and cloning go hand in hand – embryos for embryonic stem cell research will be created through cloning techniques and then killed to harvest their stem cells."
Last year the pro-life group successfully fought a proposed law that would have legalized the cloning of human embryos for medical research in Maryland.