Monday, October 11, 2004

stem-cell proposition

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle printed yesterday points out that California Proposition 71, the measure that regulates and funds stem cell research, is likely to pass on November 2. The article says that 46% of likely voters favor this measure. And most disturbing is that 49% of Catholics according to their survey support Proposition 71. This inspite the recent statement by Catholic bishops opposing Prop. 71.

If you look at the text of the proposition, it calls for funding for embryonic stem cell research (which the Church opposes as it directly kills a human embryo). Funnily, the proposed law couches this in scientific jargon. It says--"There is hereby established a right to conduct stem cell research....involving pluripotent stem cells." It adds that pluripotent stem cells (i.e. embryonic stem cells) "may be derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer or from surplus products of in vitro fertilization treatments..." Adult stem cells do not come as "surpluses" from in virtro procedures; human embryos do.

But there is another reason why this proposed law is faulty and just plain bad from a fiscal point of view. The Sacramento Bee in a recent editorial says that with this proposition, the state would borrow $3billion to fund this type of research. Well, the thing is, states usually limit such borrowing only for capital improvements--like building and maintaining roads, bridges, infrastructure--and not for research of this kind, which may or may not even yield the kind of results many of us have been told. The CNS has a nice article on this very subject recently.

Reading all of this should convince anyone what a great disservice this proposed law is not only to the state, but also to the many patients who have been led to believe on the promises of what embryonic stem cell research could yield.

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