Illinois House Backs Tax Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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

Illinois House Backs Tax Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 1
, 2007

Springfield, IL ( — The Illinois legislature put the final touches on a measure 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 Illinois House gave the measure its approval Thursday on a 70-44 vote to set up an institute to award grants for the research, which has never helped any patients.

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has angered lawmakers over the last two years with executive orders spending state dollars on embryonic stem cell research without the backing of the legislature.

He has perviously spent $15 million on embryonic stem cell research and the bill would put that funding into state law.

The measure also upsets pro-life advocates because it would ban human cloning for reproductive purposes but it allows cloning of human embryos specifically to kill them for scientific studies.

Surprisingly, no pro-life lawmakers spoke against the measure on the floor of the House, likely because they knew they had little chance of stopping the bill.

The House approved it’s version of the bill on a 67-46 vote in March and this final vote was on a melding of the companion Senate bill.

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 after the first vote in March.

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.

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