by Steven Ertelt
July 19, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A county commissioner officially began his drive on Monday to secure taxpayer funds for unproven embryonic stem cell research. The campaign is similar to a California effort that netted $6 billion in funding and, if successful, will have Florida voters deciding a statewide measure.
Burt Aaronson, a Palm Beach County commissioner, launched Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures and is looking for $1.5 million in support to be able to collect the 611,000 necessary to put a constitutional amendment before voters in the September 2006 primaries.
Aaronson said he wants Florida to compete with California and the three other states that have committed tax money to the destructive research, which has yet to cure any patients.
The local politician has not put on paper how much money he wants for the research, which involves the destruction of human life, but he said the $11.3 billion tobacco settlement the state received in 1997 might be a good source of revenue. The money was intended for health care efforts.
Sen. Ron Klein, a Democrat, backs the effort and said, "Whether it’s Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or cancer, we should be doing everything we possibly can to look for the answers, for the solutions."
However, other lawmakers questioned the proposal, which also calls for allowing research-based human cloning.
"Cloning is very scary," Rep. Eleanor Sobel, also a Democrat, told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. "I think we should stick with embryonic stem cell research."
Detractors, such as Genetics Policy Institute President Bernard Siegel, who said the effort was a left-leaning one meant to get around the state legislature, which does not back using tax money for embryonic stem cell research. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also opposes using state money for the research.
Pro-life groups told the Orlando paper they will oppose the effort.
"Clearly, embryonic stem cell research does necessitate the destruction of a living, developing human being," said Florida Catholic Conference health director Michael Sheedy. He said alternative research methods, such as the use of adult stem cells, are providing more hope for patients and have already produced dozens of treatments.
"The cures are coming, but without the destruction of embryos," he told the Sentinel.
Another group is already moving on a separate petition to get the research vote on the ballot.
Cures for Florida has started a campaign to collect the 611,000 signatures needed and hopes to obtain as much as $1 billion for the unproven research. Art Brownstein, founder of the group, told the Sun-Sentinel he has plenty of money and volunteers to meet the signature goal.