by Steven Ertelt
April 5, 2006
Annapolis, MD (LifeNews.com) — Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, a Republican, plans to sign a stem cell research funding bill state lawmakers approved, but Catholic officials sent him an eleventh-hour letter asking him to reconsider his decision.
Ehrlich plans to sign the bill on Thursday that would spend $15 million in taxpayer funds on stem cell research.
The measure originally was very strongly biased in favor of embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life. It called on the state to give priority to funding it and did not include and religious leaders on a state panel that will determine how the money is spent.
Though the state Senate approved changes to the bill removing the priority status and adding two religious members to the panel, money will still likely go towards embryonic stem cell research.
Because of that, Catholic officials wrote Ehrlich urging him to veto the measure.
Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler, Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Wilmington (Delaware) Bishop Michael Saltarelli co-signed a letter to the governor expressing their opposition to the bill.
They said embryonic stem cells can only be obtained for research by destroying human life and pointed out that adult stem cells have already provided dozens of treatments and cures without the ethical problems.
Ehrlich is not likely going to be persuaded and has already invited Senate President Thomas Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch to the signing ceremony.
Last week he indicated he would sign the bill.
"Obviously we are pleased with the events of today with stem cells," Ehrlich said.
"It’s not a perfect bill," he admitted but said "The dollars will follow the (recommendations of) the scientists. The dollars will not follow the politicians."
The House approved the bill 90-48 after the Senate made the changes to it.
In opposing the bill, Del. Anthony O’Donnell, a Republican, told The Capital newspaper, "Clearly it will be weighted to make sure more funding goes to embryonic stem cell research."
The Maryland Technology Development Corporation, a government-business joint venture, will determine how the funds would be spent. Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland are expected to receive much of the funds.
Related web sites:
Maryland State legislature – https://mlis.state.md.us
Maryland Gov Bob Ehrlich – https://www.gov.state.md.us