Florida Supreme Court Allows Statewide Stem Cell Research Votes

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 31, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Supreme Court Allows Statewide Stem Cell Research Votes Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 31
, 2007

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida Supreme Court has paved the way for two state ballot amendments about stem cell research funding — one that forces the state government to pay for embryonic stem cell research and another that prohibits it. Now all organizers of the competing proposals have to do is get enough signatures to qualify.

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 required the state’s high court to evaluate the language.

The first amendment would force the state to spend $20 million annually for 10 years on the embryonic research, which is nowhere close to helping patients. The state currently spends no money on any kind of stem cell research, adult, embryonic or otherwise.

It would prohibit the use of human cloning for reproductive purposes but allow human cloning to create human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them for research.

Meanwhile, the pro-life proposal would cut off state funding and says, "No revenue of the state shall be spent on experimentation that involves the destruction of a live human embryo."

The court returned its decision on Thursday and said unanimously that the language contained in both proposals is clear enough for voters to understand and that it follows state law dealing with just one subject.

Now the work begins to collect the 61,000 signatures necessary to qualify the measures for the November 2008 ballot.

The backers of the ban currently have 86,000 signatures while supporters of state funding have 68,000 signatures.

Susan Cutaia, who chairs Citizens for Science and Ethics, the group behind the funding ban, says "The whole area of stem cell research will really be discussed. 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?"

Some political observers are concerned that Florida voters may approve both measures, throwing their fate into the hands of the courts. Mark Herron, a Florida election law attorney, told the Herald Tribune newspaper that there is nothing in the state constitution that discusses what to do in such a situation.

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.

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