New Jersey Governor Corzine to Push Lawmakers on Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Governor Corzine to Push Lawmakers on Stem Cell Research Bill

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 18, 2006

Trenton, NJ ( — Frustrated that the state legislature hasn’t acted faster in getting a stem cell research bill approved, Gov. Jon Corzine said Monday he would use the bully pulpit of his office to press for its passage.

Corzine said the bills have stalled because "the legislative process has the ability to tie it up in knots."

The governor called it "unconscionable," according to a Star-Ledger news report, that New Jersey political leaders have "sat on our hands" on the legislation. He indicated the state would fall behind others like Maryland and California if the measure wasn’t approved soon.

"This really needs to get moved up in the agenda. I’m going to start talking about the issue over and over again," the governor said.

The newspaper reports that Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, who backs embryonic stem cell research, has refused to allow the state Assembly to further consider the stem cell research bill until the Senate acts on a needle exchange measure for drug users that he supports.

In March, New Jersey lawmakers clarified some of the language. The measure would borrow millions in taxpayer funds to build new facilities that would engage in embryonic stem cell research pro-life groups oppose.

The stem cell institute planned for the southern part of the state will be located at the Rutgers campus. Two other facilities will be built in New Brunswick and at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

Some legislators oppose the bill because it would include funds to destroy human life in embryonic research and others oppose it because it would have the state borrowing $200 million in a time of fiscal crisis.

During hearings on the bills, Dawn Parkot, who has cerebral palsy and several other ailments, told lawmakers that cures shouldn’t be discovered on the back of killing unborn children.

"We don’t have any right to let an unborn baby or child die in order to give a disabled person even an excellent likelihood to get better, let alone fulfill the marginal promise that open-ended stem-cell research offers," Parkot said.

Embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure any patients and has problems with patients’ immune systems rejecting the cells. Pro-life groups favor adult stem cells, which have already produced dozens of treatments for various conditions.