Illinois House Backs Forcing Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois House Backs Forcing Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 1
, 2007

Springfield, IL ( — The Illinois state House has now joined the Senate in approving a bill that would force taxpayers there to spend money on embryonic stem cell research. They approved the bill despite pleas from pro-life advocates to oppose it because the controversial science involves the destruction of human life.

The House approved it’s version of the bill on a 67-46 vote. Both chambers have approved their own bills and now each must vote on the other’s measure before either one can go to the governor.

The two measures put into law funding for the research that Governor Blagojevich previously authorized.

They also would ban human cloning for reproductive purposes but also allow it for scientific studies, a practice pro-life advocates strenuously oppose.

Rep. Tom Cross, a Republican who is the chief sponsor of the House bill, said the money was needed from taxpayers because embryonic stem cell research can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s. However, leading scientists say the cells may never cure that disease because it is too complex.

Pro-life advocates said the state should focus on alternatives like adult stem cell research and the use of germ cells, which Harvard and Wake Forest University scientists say have tremendous potential.

"This is a deplorable use for taxpayer funds on top of the moral objections towards this type of research," said Republican Rep. David Reis, in a statement obtained.

If the bill gets final approval and is signed by the governor, it won’t be the first time the state has funded the disputed research.

Last year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave an executive order that had state lawmakers and pro-life advocates crying foul. That order marked the second time the governor has the state spend taxpayers’ money on embryonic stem cells.

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

Democratic Rep. John Bradley of Marion chastised Blagojevich at the time for leaving the legislature out of the debate and a spokesman for the Republican leader in the state Senate said the governor was "showing his disdain for the people of Illinois."

Through the grants, Blagojevich spent about $15 million on embryonic stem cell research and the bills in the legislature would turn those orders into state law.

Neither measure says how much the legislature will spend on the funding and later legislation would likely determine the amounts.

Embryonic stem cells have yet to cure a single patient and have experienced rejection issues and developed tumors when tried on animals. Adult stem cells have resulted in the creation of dozens of therapies, some of which have been approved by the FDA.

Related web sites:
Illinois State Legislature –