by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2005
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the New Jersey state Senate voted late Monday to spend at least $150 million in taxpayer funds on building what they hope will be one of the world’s top stem cell research institutes. However, pro-life advocates oppose the vote because it will mean significant portions of the money will promote embryonic stem cells.
Acting Gov. Codey, who has made the institute the hallmark of his administration, called the 22-14 vote "a significant step forward on behalf of the citizens of New Jersey, the country and the world."
But pro-life groups oppose the decision and they may get some unlikely help from Democrats in the state Assembly who oppose the bill because they say it spends too much money on buildings and not enough on research. Thus far, a committee hearing on the measure has not been scheduled.
According to the proposal, money for the stem cell center would come from bonds the state would issue against the future tobacco tax revenue. Once completed, the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey would be based in New Brunswick.
Codey’s proposal also upsets many in the scientific and medical communities.
Dr. Aulita Eck, an internal medicine specialist, says, "There are hundreds and hundreds of uses of adult or non-embryonic stem cells. Why [Codey] would be pouring our good, hard-earned New Jersey tax dollars into embryonic stem cell research is beyond me."
Marie Tasy, director of New Jersey Right to Life added that "embryonic stem cell research has not yielded one cure."
New Jersey faces a $4 billion deficit and that was on the minds of many lawmakers when addressing the research funding request.
"How can we pay for new programs if we can’t even pay for the ones we have?" asked state Sen. Diane Allen, a Republican from Edgewater Park.
A January poll by Quinnipiac University found that 68 percent of New Jersey residents back stem cell research in general, but only 47 percent support using taxpayer funds to pay for it.
The state has allocated $9.5 million to the institute so far and research universities plan to contribute an additional $2 million.
Related web sites:
New Jersey Right to Life – https://www.njrtl.org