New Jersey Senate Approves Stem Cell Research Referendum, Likely Dead

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Senate Approves Stem Cell Research Referendum, Likely Dead Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 5, 2006

Trenton, NJ ( — The New Jersey state Senate last week approved a measure that would send the issue of using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research to state voters. However, the state Assembly isn’t like to vote on the bill by an August deadline and the measure appears to be dead for the session.

The legislation would put on the November ballot a question of whether the state should borrow $230 million to pay for the controversial research.

The money, which would come in over seven years, would fund stem cell research centers in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden.

The Senate approved the measure 26 to 9 last Friday, but the Assembly must approve it by August 29 for it to move ahead and that doesn’t appear likely to happen.

"There really hasn’t been any discussion on it in awhile," Assemblyman Neil Cohen, a Democrat who has been pushing the bill in the Assembly, told the Gannett State Bureau.

Before the Senate vote, pro-life lawmakers failed in an attempt to make sure the funds would be spent on adult stem cells but not embryonic ones.

Sen. Anthony Bucco, a Republican, tried to add an amendment to the bill to not fund embryonic stem cell research because it isn’t anywhere close to producing cures for patients. Adult stem cells have already yielded dozens of treatments for various diseases.

The Senate rejected Bucco’s amendment on a 23-14 vote.

"Especially in these times," Bucco said. "You hear about the crisis every day, yet they never want to stop spending money and continue spending money on things that haven’t been proven."

Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, agreed.

"Despite 20 years of research, embryonic stem cells have not provided one cure, are full of inherent problems and risks and yet NJ lawmakers continue to irresponsibly perpetuate false hope and pursue public funding resources to satisfy the big moneyed interests of the biotech lobby," she said in a statement provided to

She indicated that an adult stem cell research bill in Congress that will provide $265 million for cord blood and bone marrow treatment makes it so New Jersey doesn’t need to spend more money.

"If the Governor and Legislative leaders pursue public funding of this unethical and unproven
research, the losers will be NJ citizens, who will not only bear the financial burden of this wasteful spending, but be faced with the realization that they and their loved ones have been denied a cure because NJ lawmakers placed politics above saving human lives," Tasy added.

Lawmakers worried about New Jersey’s budget woes and pro-life legislators who don’t want taxpayer money spent on destroying human life oppose the bill.

Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, a Democrat, is holding up the bill until the Senate acts on some unrelated legislation he favors

Related web sites:
New Jersey Right to Life –