North Carolina Lawmaker Wants $10 Million for Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

North Carolina Lawmaker Wants $10 Million for Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12, 2005

Charlotte, NC ( — A North Carolina lawmaker wants the state to be the next to spend taxpayer funds on stem cell research, including embryonic research that destroys human life. Rep. Earl Jones, a Greensboro Democrat, has sponsored a measure that seeks to use $10 million in funding from the state’s tobacco settlement.

The funds are supposed to be used for providing health care for state residents, but Jones wants some of the money to go to scientists conducting stem cell research.

"North Carolina could be the leader in the South on stem cell research," Jones told the Greensboro News-Record newspaper.

However, many pro-life advocates told the House Health Committee on Thursday that they oppose Jones’ bill because some of their tax money could be directed to embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos to obtain the cells.

Theresa Eagle, a Greensboro resident who has rheumatoid arthritis said, "I don’t want one baby to die just so I can live."

Eagle, and many other people who spokes against Jones’ measure, said she has no problem with adult stem cell research because it does not involve the destruction of human life.

Speakers also pointed out that adult stem cell research has shown more success than the embryonic version. Adult stem cells have yielded dozens of treatments for diseases while embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure a single patient.

Rep. Mark Hilton, a Catawba County Republican, told Jones during the hearing he was sorry Jones "dismissed our concerns" concerning a request by him and other lawmakers to ensure funding does not go to embryonic research.

According to the Greensboro paper, Jones said he did not ignore their requests because he knew the bill would not receive a vote Thursday. He also said he didn’t want to exclude embryonic research from receiving funding.

"This bill is designed not to exclude any type of research that holds promise," he said.

The measure will stay alive through the 2006 legislative session because it is a funding bill. Jones told the Record-Journal he hopes a special legislative committee will look into stem cell research funding between the end of this session and the beginning of the next one.

House Speaker Jim Black, a Democrat, would have to authorize such a committee and he said he would decide by next week whether to do that. Endorsement from a study committee could improve the bill’s chances.

Successes in North Carolina on stem cell research have come from the use of adult stem cells so far.

A team of scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center have found that using umbilical cord blood could mean new life for newborn babies with a rare genetic disorder.

Umbilical cord blood transplants can save the lives of newborns with Krabbe’s disease, helping their brains to develop normally.