Illinois Governor Signs Adult Stem Cell Research Bill Promoting Umbilical Cords

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Governor Signs Adult Stem Cell Research Bill Promoting Umbilical Cords Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 6, 2006

Springfield, IL ( — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill on Monday that would encourage parents of newborns there to donate the blood from their baby’s umbilical cord so scientists can gather adult stem cells to use in research. Lawmakers said the measure is a good bill that both sides of the embryonic stem cell research debate can support.

Blagojevich praised the bill and signed it, even though he has come under considerable criticism from state legislators and pro-life groups for spending millions of taxpayer funds on embryonic stem cell research without legislative approval.

"Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases," Blagojevich said in a statement about the bill. "And while the umbilical cord is normally thrown away after a child is born, it could give hope to someone suffering from leukemia, anemia or another serious disease."

State Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican who sponsored the proposal, said it would encourage parents to donate the blood to programs such as the National Marrow Donor Program, a network of public and private umbilical cord banks.

He told the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper that the bill represented a good compromise.

"Rather than arguing bitterly, like we have, over areas that we don’t agree on, such as embryonic stem cell research and taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research, let’s focus our efforts on areas where we all agree," he said.

Under the measure, HB 5245, the Illinois Department of Public Health would head up a campaign to inform parents. Brochures will be distributed about it starting next January.

Blagojevich previously came under fire for diverting $10 million in state funds to embryonic stem cell research programs.

The state legislature previously voted against using tax dollars on embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human life and isn’t anywhere close to helping patients like adult stem cells have.

Knowing that, Blagojevich waited until lawmakers approved a state budget with money earmarked for unspecified "scientific research" before announcing his intent for it.

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