Illinois Governor Blagojevich Signs Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 29, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Governor Blagojevich Signs Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 29,

Washington, DC ( — Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday signed a bill that would force taxpayers there to spend money on embryonic stem cell research. His signing the measure is the latest action going against the views of pro-life advocates on whether unborn children should be sacrificed to advance scientific research.

The measure would set up an institute under the Illinois Department of Public Health to award grants for the research, which has never helped any patients.

It also makes embryonic stem cell research legal and establishes procedures for couples to donate their "unwanted" human embryos for studies.

Blagojevich 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 governor says he backs the bill because he wants to lure researchers to the state and because he thinks embryonic stem cell research is the hope for patients.

"Stem-cell research has limitless potential to help cure devastating diseases — from Parkinson’s to diabetes and even many forms of cancer," Blagojevich said in a statement. "Since the federal government continues to stall the medical advancements that will come with stem-cell research, it is up to Illinois to take action."

Blagojevich is referring to a bill President Bush vetoed twice that would force taxpayers to fund embryonic research involving human embryos "leftover" at fertility clinics.

The bill does not authorize any direct funding but is the legal instrument for it and state lawmakers have already promised to try to attack millions in state dollars to it.

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 gave it a final vote of 70-44 in June.

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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Illinois State Legislature –
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