New Jersey Committee Approves Stem Cell Research Institute

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 21, 2005

Trenton, NJ ( — Members of the state Senate voted to use millions of taxpayer funds to create a state stem cell research institute, even though the facility and the money would support destructive embryonic stem cell research.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee signed off on legislation Monday to create the institute. The bill authorizes the state to borrow money to pay for it and to pay off the loans with income generated from additional taxes on cigarettes.

Under the measure, New Jersey will spend $150 million to build the research facility and $60 million for biomedical research facilities. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University would run the institutes.

Opponents of unproven embryonic stem cell research say they don’t want public funds spent on it and are fighting for assurances in the bill that it won’t happen.

John Tomicki, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the League of American Families, told the Gannett State Bureau that his group would consider legal action if the bill passes.

He also criticized lawmakers for throwing in $75 million worth of unrelated state park projects into the bill.

"We believe the bill is constitutionally flawed, and we are prepared to take the issue to court," Tomicki said. "One part of it is dealing with bricks and mortar, the other part is parks. That’s grass and dirt on one hand, bricks and mortar on the other, so it violates the single purpose."

Meanwhile, Kathleen Scotto, of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-UMDNJ, told the GSB that there will initially be no embryonic stem cell research conducted at the facility, but that could change down the road.

"At this point, we don’t feel it is necessary to move forward with embryonic research," she said.

The committee approves the bill on an 8-6 vote with one abstention and did not adopt a request from Republican lawmakers to remove the parks funding.

Acting New Jersey Governor Codey has wanted the state to spend nearly $400 million in taxpayer funds for the research, which destroys human life.

Codey is having a tough time finding approval for his plan because of opposition from pro-life groups, Democrats who don’t want a contentious issue in this November’s election and taxpayers who see other more important uses for the funds.

He recently wrote doctors across the state, encouraging them to support his proposal.

Dr. Aulita Eck received one and was upset she made it on his list.

"He just made the assumption that we are all on the same page that he was," said Eck, an internal medicine specialist.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of uses of adult or non-embryonic stem cells. Why he would be pouring our good, hard-earned New Jersey tax dollars into embryonic stem cell research is beyond me," she told the New Jersey Media Group.

"It’s like the funding for building public schools. They just want the money. Whether the kids get education is not their concern," she said.