Maryland Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Amended, Prospects Uncertain

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Amended, Prospects Uncertain Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 8, 2006

Annapolis, MD ( — After pro-life lawmakers in the Maryland state Senate filibustered for hours, the chamber approved amendments to severely weaken the embryonic stem cell research bill they opposed. The measure is now likely to get enough votes, although it’s future is uncertain.

A filibuster against the embryonic stem cell research bill was expected from the opening of the legislative session.

Without having enough votes to pass it in its current form, backers of the unproven research modified it. Senators in committee removed the $25 million pricetag House lawmakers put in place and made more changes on Wednesday on the Senate floor.

After two failed attempts to stop debate, Sen. Roy Dyson, a Democrat put forward two amendments to make the bill more palatable.

The first removed provisions saying that state funding of stem cell research would be given to the embryonic kind, which destroys human life and isn’t anywhere close to helping any patients. The second would allow the governor to name two religious leaders to a commission that would make decisions about stem cell research grants.

Senate President Thomas Mike Miller told the Baltimore Sun that the bill should pass on Thursday thanks to the changes, even though embryonic stem cell research advocates gutted most of the bill to do so.

House Speaker Michael Busch told the Sun he was disappointed by the bill. He did not know if the measure would be restored in a conference committee to the original House language that upset pro-life lawmakers.

Regardless, the bill may not find favor from Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican who says his own plan for stem cell research is his preference. Ehrlich has proposed $20 million for stem cell research in his state budget but doesn’t address house the research funds would be allocated — whether to embryonic or adult stem cell research.

"It’s by its very nature nonpolitical and nonphilosophical," Ehrlich told the Sun. "The monies will go where the scientists lead those monies."

The House approved its measure on a 85-54 vote margin.

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