by Steven Ertelt
February 23, 2005
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — Several groups have filed lawsuits seeking to halt a plan approved by voters last fall that would have the state spending $6 billion in taxpayer funds on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning to generate stem cells.
The People’s Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation filed suit saying that the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine set up under Proposition 71 violates California law because it is not governed by the state.
"The drafters of the initiative went further than the law allows," Ted Costa of the People’s Advocate explained.
The lawsuit also says the stem cell panel should have had its members be elected instead of appointed by top California lawmakers.
Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science, a newly created nonprofit group filed a second lawsuit and the group is backed by one of the people originally involved in the campaign to pass Proposition 71.
The CPAES lawsuit alleges that the stem cell panel is violating conflict of interest laws by exempting some members from holding seats on the panel who are officials with biotech firms or research universities who stand to benefit from grants from the agency.
The lawsuit also says Prop. 71 failed to address a single subject as state law requires of ballot issues.
David Llewellyn, the Sacramento attorney representing the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press that Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who was president of the "No on 71" campaign, and Joni Eareckson Tada, a pro-life paraplegic, are behind the CPAES group and lawsuit.
"People need to get the message that this proposition is an enormous expenditure of money in a financially strapped state for human embryo research that is increasingly seen as problematic and hypothetical," Tada said in a statement about the suit.
Institute spokeswoman Julie Buckner told AP that the 59 percent who supported Prop. 71 "felt comfortable that there was ample oversight and accountability built into the initiative."
The stem cell panel hopes to give out the first embryonic stem cell research grant awards in May.
The Life Legal Defense foundation, a pro-life law firm which is helping with the lawsuit, says the lawsuits were filed with the California State Supreme Court because the grants are expected soon.
The lawsuits assert "that there is no specificity with respect to how the funds raised by the bonds are to be spent and there are no external controls exist for any state agency to monitor spending," the firm said in a statement.
Related web sites:
Life Legal Defense Foundation – https://www.lldf.org