Illinois Lawmakers Wants Tax Out of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Lawmakers Wants Tax Out of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18, 2005

Springfield, IL ( — A state lawmaker wants to remove a tax on cosmetic surgery that is at the heart of legislation that would use $1billion in public funds to pay for unproven embryonic stem cell research. Removing the provision would stop any taxpayer funds used on the controversial research.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, a Republican, said Tuesday that the state House would not pass the bill as is and he also worried about the state legislature approving another tax increase.

"People don’t like the tax. A lot of people just have a problem with stem cell research," Cross told the Pantagraph newspaper. "The combination of the two made it very difficult to pass."

Without the tax, the legislation would encourage the state to support embryonic stem cell research, but would not use public funds to pay for grants to scientists or research universities.

Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has been the point man on the proposal and included the tax in the bill to raise the $1 billion needed to make $100 million annual grants for 10 years.

Doctors involved in the cosmetic surgery community in Illinois have lobbied against the tax.

Dr. Jeffrey Poulter, founder of Bloomington’s Center for Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, told the Bloomington newspaper that a letter-writing campaign had been organized by those in the industry to defeat the tax.

Hynes spokesman Alan Henry said he would still try to find a way to obtain funding for the proposal, though he did not say what alternatives Hynes is considering.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the measure, with the tax, in March.

Embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in any successful treatments so far. In fact, a number of physicians have concluded that initial trials have been disastrous.

While backers of the proposal say embryonic stem cells could be used for diseases ranging from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s, there’s been no concrete evidence that such research actually works.

Embryonic stem cell research also creates an ethical quagmire because it involves the destruction of living human embryos. In contrast, adult stem cell research, which does not involve the killing of embryos, has been used to successfully treat dozens of diseases.

The Illinois Federation for Right to Life opposes the bill and says, “claims of embryonic stem cells being used to cure all of the diseases that are incurable today have been clearly exaggerated and that adult stem cell research which pro-life supports has actually been used therapeutically to treat leukemia and other diseases since the 1980s.”

The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which also opposes the legislation, has stated, “While we are called to be compassionate, this does not justify using public funds for embryonic stem cell research or human cloning.”

Related web sites:

Illinois General Assembly –
Illinois Federation for Right to Life-
Illinois Catholic Conference-