Ohio Stem Cell Research Initiative Moves Forward, but With Limits

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ohio Stem Cell Research Initiative Moves Forward, but With Limits Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 3, 2005

Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — The Ohio state House approved a ballot initiative that would allow the state government to borrow $2 billion for a public works and technology package that includes funding for stem cell research. Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft promised limits on using the funds for research involving human embryos.

The House sent the package to the state Senate on an 84-7 vote. The margin was expected to be closer, but Taft promised he would use an executive order to prohibit the funds from being used on any new embryonic stem cell research.

The money, under his promised action, would only be used for adult stem cell research or on embryonic stem cells which had already been derived.

Pro-life lawmakers had hoped to add a provision to the bill banning the use of any funds for embryonic stem cell research. However, Speaker Jon Husted, a Republican, prevented Republican State Rep. Mike Gilb from being recognized to offer an amendment to do so.

Taft’s order, which mirrors President Bush’s August 2001 policy against using federal funds for the unproven research, would last during Taft’s final 17 months as governor. It would be up to his replacement to determine whether to keep, modify or drop the requirement.

Gilb said he was also considering adding language to the bill to make Taft’s executive order permanent, but Husted prevented him.

“It was inappropriate,” Gilb told the Canton newspaper of Husted’s slight. “I should have been recognized to give this body the opportunity to consider that issue.”

Husted said any vote on stem cell research would have killed the deal he struck with Democrats to pass the bill. The Ohio Senate is expected to approve it today.

Last month, Taft used his line-item veto power to strike a ban on state funding of embryonic stem cell research from a state spending bill. It would have ensured that none of the money in the ballot proposal would have been used for embryonic stem cell research. The governor he indicated he wanted a policy more in line with the president’s.

Bush’s policy "protects life by limiting publicly funded research to the use of only those embryonic stem cell lines that existed at the time the President determined federal policy," Taft at the time.

Pro-life organizations had strongly supported the ban.

"We strongly support the … amendment prohibiting the use of state grant funds for research that involves the destruction of human embryos to obtain their stem cells," Mark Lally, legislative director of Ohio Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.

“Since ‘adult’ stem cells have produced over 50 clinical treatments while embryonic stem cells have produced none, the [legislature] has wisely decided to invest in the only type of stem cell research that is both ethical and a demonstrated success,” Lally added.

Initial trials using embryonic stem cells have proven disastrous. In one case, for instance, Parkinson’s patients who were injected with embryonic stem cells ended up growing hair in their brains.

Adult stem cell research has proven to be far more promising, offering treatments for everything from heart disease to breast cancer.

The Third Frontier bond narrowly failed on the ballot two years ago.

Related web sites:
Ohio Right to Life – https://www.ohiolife.org