Florida Lawmaker Wants Bill to Advance Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 4, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Lawmaker Wants Bill to Advance Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 4, 2005

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Advocates of embryonic stem cell research in Florida are pressing for a ballot initiative for funding of the unproven research, but a lawmaker says he wants a bill in the state legislature to promote it as well. Democrat Rep. Franklin Sands says his bill would promote the destructive research, but with restrictions.

Sans says his legislation would allow research on embryonic stem cells obtained from extra human embryos leftover from in-vitro fertilization at fertility clinics that otherwise would be destroyed.

The legislature meets again next year and could consider his bill, which would also use state taxpayer funds for the embryonic research.

Sands’ bill would also ban reproductive human cloning but would allow research cloning involving the creation and destruction of human life.

”What we’re trying to do is make a positive commitment to go forward,” Sands said. "If we all could buy in, we could see cures much sooner.”

Governor Jeb Bush and pro-life lawmakers at the state legislature won’t support the bill, however.

Bush told the Associated Press that he continues to oppose embryonic stem cell research and taxpayer funding for it because it involves killing human embryos, unique human beings.

”I don’t believe the state should be providing funding for that type of activity,” Bush said. "I think it’s a false hope in a lot of ways. But more importantly, it’s the encouraging of the creation of life to take life.”

Towson Fraser, a spokesman for House Speaker Allan Bense, a Republican, told AP that he wouldn’t support the bill either but would allow hearings and a vote.

”He believes that we should not destroy life for scientific research,” Fraser said. "However, when Rep. Sands files his bill, the speaker will look at it thoroughly and send it to the appropriate committees and it will go through the process. He’s going to let the membership debate it and hear from the public.”

Meanwhile, a county commissioner last month began his drive to secure taxpayer funds for the research.

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.

The local politician has not put on paper how much money he wants for the research, 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.

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 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 newspaper he has plenty of money and volunteers to meet the signature goal.