Illinois Governor Exempts Himself From Stem Cell Research Oversight

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Governor Exempts Himself From Stem Cell Research Oversight Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16, 2006

Springfield, IL ( — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has upset state residents with another executive order. This time, he quietly issued a directive exempting himself from state legislative oversight on spending millions of taxpayer dollars on unproven embryonic stem cell research.

Last Spring, when state lawmakers failed to approve legislation to spend public funds on the research, which relies on the destruction of human life, Blagojevich drew criticism for circumventing the legislative process by issuing an executive order to create the Illinois Regenerative Institute for Stem Cell Research.

The July 2005 order used $10 million hidden in his state budget for "scientific research" to fund the controversial program and allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to issues rules governing how the funds would be distributed.

A committee of state lawmakers from the House and Senate would have had to have signed off on the rules the department adopted.

Now, according to an Express News report, Blagojevich has issued a new order to eliminate the requirement that any new rules be adopted to govern the research.

Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican, blasted the governor’s unilateral decision.

"There are no guidelines whatsoever except what the governor himself will decide on where the money will go and what it will be used for," he told the Express News.

Righter told the newspaper that Blagojevich has done everything possible to avoid submitting his plan for legislative approval because he knows state lawmakers oppose funding the unethical research.

"Clearly a majority of the General Assembly opposes public funding for stem cell research," Righter said.

A bill to merely endorse, not fund, embryonic stem cell research failed in the state Senate.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff claimed to the newspaper that the health department issued the rules already so there is no need for the state legislature to sign off on them.

Grants from the $10 million fund are slated to be awarded on April 17 and can go to those conducting either embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to help any patients, or adult stem cell research, which has already produced over 80 treatments.

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