New Jersey Pro-Life Groups Appeal Embryonic Stem Cell Research Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 19,
2007

Trenton, NJ (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates are taking a decision allowing a ballot proposal that would make taxpayers fund embryonic stem cell research to a state appeals court. They are appealing a judge’s decision from September saying New Jersey voters should be allowed to consider the idea.

Gov. Jon Corzine and the state legislature have approved a bill asking voters to approve borrowing $450 million to fund grants over the next 10 years.

But New Jersey Right to Life and the Legal Center for Defense of Life filed a lawsuit saying the proposal fails to disclose that the money will also pay for human cloning.

The suit also says the bill does not tell voters that the bonds will be paid through higher local property taxes if sales tax revenues are insufficient.

Last month, Superior Court Judge Neil Shuster found the ballot question valid after a hearing and disagreed with the pro-life groups that the language is misleading.

A three judge panel of the state appeals court will listen to arguments on Monday in the case. They will consider whether or not to stop counting the votes or adjusting ballot machines to not register votes on the issue.

Bertram P. Goltz Jr., an attorney for the pro-life law firm, told the Associated Press, "It is unlawful and, frankly, unconscionable that the voters are not being told by the interpretative statement what they are being asked to buy and how they are going to pay for it."

The state Attorney General’s office has asked the court to let the voting proceed.

It previously told the lower court that the groups did not produce any reasons for not allowing the ballots to be printed and the vote to proceed.

In his decision, Shuster called the ballot question language "fair, balanced and neutral" and said the language in the proposal claims to prohibit human cloning.

Under the lawsuit, NJRTL and 15 state residents say the bill fails to disclose that it will "finance the creation, experimentation and then destruction of cloned human beings through the entire period of normal gestation."

Judge Shuster said halting the ballots would pose issues for military personnel and those voting absentee and not allow sufficient time to get the ballots delivered properly.

He also said pro-life groups could come back and challenge the vote after the election.

Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life previously told LifeNews.com that the cloning portion of the lawsuit is important because the bill will likely exploit poor women.

"Since it is highly unlikely that there are enough left over embryos from NJ fertility treatments to meet the demands of researchers, there is a very real potential for exploiting NJ women, especially poor, minority and college-aged women who will be offered financial incentives to donate their eggs for cloning research," she said.

"The list of dangerous health effects reported from the large amounts of hormones used in the egg extraction procedure includes memory loss, liver disorders, early osteoporosis, ovarian cancer and death," she added.

Tasy pointed to a 2003 law which allows scientists to clone and kill human embryos for research purposes.

"[Scientists] will have absolute authority to clone and kill human beings through the embryo, fetal and newborn stages for their organs, parts and tissues,” Tasy said.

Related web sites:
New Jersey Right to Life – https://www.njrtl.org