Massachusetts Attorney General Stops Stem Cell Research Vote

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Massachusetts Attorney General Stops Stem Cell Research Vote Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 20, 2005

Boston, MA ( — Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly has shot down a proposal for a statewide ballot referendum to reverse legislation approved by the state legislature that would promote embryonic stem cell research. Backers of a vote say workers in medical fields need to be protected from being forced to participate in the unproven research.

In May, the state House and Senate overrode a veto from Governor Mitt Romney and allows scientists to move ahead with the research, which has yet to cure a single patient, without having to seek governmental approval. It also authorizes research-based human cloning.

But opponents of the law wanted to repeal it and were ready to gather the 33,000 signatures needed to get a referendum on the state ballot. However, Reilly shot it down.

Larry Cirignano, a pro-life advocate, filed the petition for the referendum two weeks after the legislature overrode the veto. He told the Associated Press he would appeal Reilly’s decision to the Supreme Judicial Court.

The new law is supposed to protect health care workers with "sincerely-held religious practices or beliefs" form being asked to participate in the research, which involves the destruction of human life. Reilly said that the state constitution mandates that no law dealing with the subject of religion is authorized to be the subject of a state referendum, he wrote in a letter to Secretary of State William Galvin.

"We said all along that it’s not a religious issue. It’s a human rights issue. This is life and death for embryos for years and years to come," Cirignano responded.

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