by Steven Ertelt
May 9, 2007
Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is continuing to push a plan that would force the state’s taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research to the tune of $1 billion over 10 years. Patrick says he wants the state to keep up with others like California, Illinois, and neighboring Connecticut, which have publicly funded the grisly research.
Under his plan, the state would create a bank of embryonic stem cell lines for public and private research, upgrade the facilities at colleges around the state and provide grants for their research.
Patrick recently spoke at the BIO International Convention, a gathering of biotech industry leaders.
"We want Massachusetts to provide the global platform for bringing your innovations from the drawing board to the market, from inspiration to commercialization, from ideas to cures," he said, according to an AP report.
"It’s about competing," he added. "We have, in some ways, an elite position in the world because of a combination of resources and concentration of strengths."
However, pro-life advocates are opposed to the plan because, while it includes the more ethical and effective adult stem cell research, it promotes embryonic stem cells — that can currently only be obtained by killing days-old unborn children.
"The problem with embryonic stem-cell research is that it is destructive to human life," Marie Sturgis, the director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told AP. Taxpayers should not be given a mandate to fund this unethical form of research."
Patrick envisions leading academic institutions like UMass, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hospitals including Massachusetts General Hospital working together to create the world’s largest stem cell bank.
According to his plan, the University of Massachusetts medical school in Worcester would house a $66 million stem-cell bank as well.
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray attended Patrick’s speech and said they would support a bill in the state legislature to approve the governor’s plan.
In March, Patrick said he wanted to overturn restrictions on embryonic stem cell research put in place Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, his predecessor. The Massachusetts Public Health Council adopted the regulations on human cloning and embryonic stem cell research last August.
The rules included prohibiting the creation of human embryos solely for their destruction.
But they frustrated some Harvard University scientists who say they could expose them to criminal penalties for conducting certain research activities.
Patrick indicated he would ask the council to review its decision and he can require it to revise its policies as the governor and head of the agency.
Romney put the restrictions in place because he had a change of heart on abortion two years ago after confronting the issue of embryonic stem cell research and the destruction of days-old human beings for science.