by Steven Ertelt
October 20, 2006
Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — A New Jersey Assembly legislative panel has approved a bill that would have the state spend $270 million in taxpayer funds that would be used in part for embryonic stem cell research. The measure, if approved by the full Assembly, would head to the state Senate, which has approved its own version.
Under the proposal, $150 million would build stem cell research institutes in New Brunswick, Camden, and an adult stem cell research facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
The money would also go towards the Garden State Cancer Center in Belleville and the Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program in Allendale.
Senate President Richard Codey has been pushing a $250 million Senate version that the Assembly must now consider.
Codey and Assemblyman Neil Cohen, who sponsored this measure, also want a second bill that would call on state voters to approve $230 million over seven years to fund stem cell research grants — a proposal pro-life groups oppose because it would pay for embryonic stem cell research.
The Senate approved the measure 26 to 9 in July.
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, the director of New Jersey Right to Life says her group strongly favors stem cell research but only supports the kind that doesn’t involve the destruction of human life.
"We would be very happy to support this if we could limit the research to just adult stem cell," she told AP.
"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 LifeNews.com.
"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.
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts told the Associated Press he hopes the Assembly approves both measure before the end of the year.
Roberts had been holding up the bills while he waited on the Senate to approve non-germane legislation he wanted passed.
Related web sites:
New Jersey Right to Life – https://www.njrtl.org