by Steven Ertelt
February 25, 2006
Annapolis, MD (LifeNews.com) — Two Maryland state House committees have approved legislation that would use $25 million annually in taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.
The House Health and Governmental Operations and Appropriations committees approved the measure which now heads to the full House for debate and a vote.
House Speaker Michael Busch indicated the measure would be before the House next week.
This is the first step in what will likely be a lengthy battle in the state legislature on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. A bipartisan group of pro-life lawmakers in the state Senate blocked similar legislation last year and they’re threatening to filibuster the bill again.
Lawmakers who back the bill may change the wording of their legislation in order to get more support in the state Senate and from Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
Discussion has been underway for more than a week to change the language of the bill, which currently would fund only embryonic stem cell research, to contain neutral language that would allow funding for both embryonic and adult stem cells.
Senate Democrats who support the measure are looking to drop the words "embryo" and "embryonic" from the bill altogether in a move they hope will gain support.
However, pro-life lawmakers and groups may still oppose the bill because it still allows for $25 million a year for five years of funding of the destructive research, which has yet to cure any patients.
The measure would also allow the destruction of human embryos from fertility clinics for research.
Nineteen votes are needed to sustain a filibuster and 14 Republicans and six Democrats have joined forced to stop the legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Lowell Stoltzfus told the Sun he still has the votes needed to prevent a vote on the embryonic stem cell research bill.
"The landscape hasn’t changed a lot as far as I can see," he said.
A representative of Governor Ehrlich said he is pursuing a proposal he’s already put forward and would be unlikely to support a revised bill.
Ehrlich has proposed $13.5 million in spending for a new medical research center in Baltimore and another $20 million for stem cell research projects. His plan calls for a technology development group governed by the state to determine what kind of research the $20 million will fund.
TAKE ACTION: Contact your state Representative and Senator and urge strong opposition to embryonic stem cell research. You can find contact info at – https://mlis.state.md.us.