by Steven Ertelt
February 15, 2006
Hartford, CT (LifeNews.com) — An advisory board in Connecticut charged with doling out $20 million in taxpayer funds lawmakers approved for stem cell research says the money should first go to scientists who are conducting studies with embryonic stem cells. The move is certain to upset pro-life groups who oppose the destruction of human life involved.
The board said the money should be directed first to stem cell researchers using embryonic stem cells that do not qualify for federal funds under limits put in place by President Bush.
Although scientists who are working on stem cells in animals qualify for funding, the committee said it preferred to fund embryonic stem cell research.
The committee also, according to an AP report, determined that it would consider funding proposals from individual scientists, not just teams working at universities in the state.
Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican, signed legislation last summer that would spend $100 million in taxpayer funds for grants for stem cell research.
Rell proposed funding embryonic stem cell research in her state budget and legislation to do that easily made its way through the state legislature, despite opposition from pro-life groups.
She signed the legislation at the University of Connecticut Health Center, where some of the research will be conducted.
The $100 million will be spread over 10 years with scientists and research universities receiving $10 million annually.
The law prohibits human embryos used in research from growing past 14 days, which detractors say mandates that all days-old unborn children must be killed for their stem cells.
Marie Hillard of the Connecticut Catholic Conference is one of the few pro-life advocates in the state speaking out against the research.
Her group opposes the bill because it would involve the destruction of days-old human embryos.
She also says the benefits of embryonic stem cell research are overstated and that the use of adult stem cells has been more effective and already provided cures for various diseases and ailments.
"We believe there is a tremendous amount of misinformation," she told the Courant newspaper.
Some lawmakers were concerned about spending the money because the deficit for fiscal year 2005-05 is projected to be anywhere from $600 million to $1.3 billion.
The legislation bans human cloning for reproductive purposes, but allows it for research.