Virginia Democrats Plan Bill Promoting Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Democrats Plan Bill Promoting Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 9
, 2007

Richmond, VA ( — Democratic state lawmakers in Virginia are putting forward legislation that would prevent the state from banning embryonic stem cell research. The proposal would specifically authorize the controversial research at state universities.

Del. Brian Moran of Alexandria, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, is behind the legislation, which could also set up the prospect of Virginia spending considerable amounts of state funds on embryonic stem cell research.

"The hope and opportunity that embryonic stem cell research provides should never be closed to thousands of Virginians suffering in silence," Moran told the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper.

Moran’s spokesman, Jesse Ferguson, admitted to the newspaper that the bill to legalize embryonic stem cell research would lead to forcing taxpayers to fund it. It also comes in response to an attempt by Republican lawmakers to limit state funding.

Last year they were unsuccessful in prohibiting state-funded institutions from conducing the research, which involves the destruction of human life.

Pro-life Del. Robert Marshall, a Republican, says the Moran legislation is all about politics.

"They’re keeping the door open for a quick, dirty, ill-informed attack ad in November," he said of the upcoming state elections. "That’s all that does. It doesn’t do anything for advancing science."

Del. Mark Sickles, a Fairfax Democrat, is putting forward a similar measure to Moran’s and a bill in the Senate would send funds to the Christopher Reeve Stem Cell Research Fund, which spends money on embryonic stem cell research.

Sen. Janet Howell will co-sponsor that measure with Sen. Creigh Deeds, which she said would also ban human cloning for research purposes. Human cloning for reproduction is already prohibited in the state.

The Moran measure could be a boon to scientists within the state, such as those at Virginia Commonwealth University who are already studying embryonic stem cells.