Illinois Lawmakers, Pro-Life Advocates Upset With Gov on Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Lawmakers, Pro-Life Advocates Upset With Gov on Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 24, 2006

Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — Illinois lawmakers and pro-life advocates are upset with Gov. Rod Blagojevich for issuing an executive order last week to direct $5 million in state taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research. This is the second time the governor has bypassed objections from the state legislature to fund the unproven research.

Both Republican and state lawmakers criticized Blagojevich, a Democrat, for circumventing the will of the state legislature, which has voted to oppose funding the research.

Democratic Rep. John Bradley of Marion chastised Blagojevich for leaving the legislature out of the debate and a spokesman for the Republican leader in the state Senate told WMAQ-TV that the governor is "showing his disdain for the people of Illinois."

Meanwhile, the Belleville News Democrat newspaper issued a weekend editorial accusing Blagojevich of running for re-election as a "dictator."

"Maybe Blagojevich slept through his civics class lesson on the legislative process. Blagojevich earlier this year asked lawmakers to spend $100 million over the next five years on stem cell research. They said no, and that should have been the end of it," the newspaper wrote.

"Blagojevich believes he knows what’s best, and the people of Illinois and the legislative process be damned," it added.

The paper also said the state is already deeply in debt and shouldn’t be spending money it doesn’t have on embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to help any patients.

Pro-life groups are also critical of the executive order.

The Illinois Federation for Right to Life said Blagojevich is forcing Illinois taxpayers to fund the destruction of innocent human life. It said pro-life advocates are "outraged at Governor Blagojevich’s new executive order that directs $5 million dollars of Illinois taxpayer money from the 2007 budget to fund" the unproven research.

The pro-life group added that "the use of taxpayer dollars should be determined by the legislative branch which represents the will of the people and not the will of one person."

Blagojevich said he issued the order because he’s upset the legislature has voted against funding the destructive research and that President Bush vetoed a Congressional bill Wednesday that would have spent federal funds on it.

He indicated embryonic stem cell research would get additional funds "as long as he occupies the White House."

"That’s why I am directing $5 million in state funds this fiscal year to continue supporting the research being done," the governor said in a statement obtained by LifeNews.com.

The money comes from a discretionary administrative line in the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ budget.

The governor’s office indicated that grant recipients will be selected from those who did not receive funds in the last allocation of grant money issued by the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute.

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

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

In April, an Illinois judge has ruled that he wouldn’t block the executive order. Cook County Judge James Henry said whether Blagojevich exceeded his constitutional authority was a matter for voters or the state legislature to decide.

Related web sites:
Illinois Federation for Right to Life – https://www.ifrl.org
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich – https://www.illinois.gov/gov