Maryland Legislature Set for Stem Cell Research Debate Next Week

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland Legislature Set for Stem Cell Research Debate Next Week Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 26, 2006

Annapolis, MD ( — Maryland lawmakers are primed for a ferocious debate about taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research next week. Lawmakers who back the unproven research are planning to bring up their bill for a vote while opponents are vowing to filibuster the bill in the state Senate.

On Wednesday, state and House and Senate committees held hearings on identical bills that would require the state to spend $25 million annually for embryonic stem cell research, even though it has yet to cure a single patient.

Sen. Paula Hollinger, a Democrat, told AP she would schedule a vote on her bill in the Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and wants to have a Senate debate next week.

But Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, the Senate Republican minority leader told AP, "Paula’s bill is going to be filibustered if it reaches the floor."

Sen. Alex Mooney, another Republican added that members of both parties opposed to the measure will "filibuster it to death."

Last year a measure funding embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life, received approval from the state House but was filibustered on the last day of the Senate session.

With the legislature going until April, it will be much more difficult to sustain a filibuster this time around and pro-life groups have asked Maryland residents to contact their elected officials in support of it.

Backers of the legislation need 29 votes to stop the filibuster and Mooney says they don’t have enough to prevent it.

The House version of the bill is expected to be approved again and House Speaker Michael Busch made it the first piece of legislation to get placed in the system.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich started the stem cell research debate when he put $20 million in his budget for stem cell research — without saying whether it should cover adult or embryonic research or both. He left the details up to a state technology development agency.

Ehrlich sent letters to the committees Wednesday opposing both bills because he is opposed to increases in state spending.

Under the bills, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would oversee the stem cell projects.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your state Representative and Senator and urge strong opposition to the embryonic stem cell research bills. You can find contact info at: