Florida Supreme Court to Consider Stem Cell Research Ballot Measures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Supreme Court to Consider Stem Cell Research Ballot Measures Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 1
, 2006

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida Supreme Court has been asked to examine the constitutionality of two competing ballot measures that may appear during the 2008 elections. One would ask state voters to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research while the other would expressly allow it.

Both sides have been working to collect enough signatures to get their measures on the ballot and they both surpassed the 10 percent mark that then requires the state’s high court to evalue the language

On Thursday, backers of the pro-life proposal submitted their prohibition measure.

It says "No revenue of the state shall be spent on experimentation that involves the destruction of a live human embryo."

Earlier this month, justices received the text of the funding proposal which would force the state to spend $20 million anually for 10 years on the research, which is nowhwere close to helping patients.

Attorney General Charlie Crist requested the reviews because both sides collected just over 61,000 signatures — the amount needed to merit the examination of their language.

The high court will review the ballot initiatives and determine whether they conform to Florida law requiring them to address just one subject and to ensure the summaries appearing on the ballot are clear and accurate.

Oral arguments on the measures have not yet been scheduled.

Some political observers are concerned that Florida voters may approve both measures, throwing their fate into the hands of the courts.

Susan Cutaia, who chairs Citizens for Science and Ethics, the group behind the funding ban, didn’t speculate on what would happen in an interview with the Associated Press.

"The whole area of stem cell research will really be discussed," Cutaia, who owns a mortgage company in Boca Raton, said. "I think Floridians deserve to hear the facts."

"Many taxpayers believe that the research presents a moral and ethical problem," Cutaia said previously. "You’re going to take human life and destroy it so you can provide a better quality of life?"

Initial campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections show the pro-life side will likely be on the losing end of the money battle again, as it was in the battle over Amendment 2 in Missouri.

Citizens for Science and Ethics has raised $71,753 in donations while Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cure, the pro-embryonic stem cell research group chaired by Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson has $345,421.

There is a chance neither measure will pass because voters approved a ballot measure last month requiring changes to the state constitution to reach a 60 percent threshold. About half of the Florida ballot measures proposed since 1976 have failed as just 15 of 28 reached that level.

In the state Senate in April, lawmakers narrowly missed adding an amendment to a bill that would have provided regulations for the research and $15 million for it. Half of the 40 members of the Senate voted for the measure, but a two-thirds vote was needed to amend the bill, so it failed.

Related web sites:
Citizens for Science and Ethics – https://www.scienceandethics.org
Florida Right to Life – https://www.frtl.org
Florida legislature – https://www.leg.state.fl.us