California Healthline Rounds Up Commentary on New State Stem Cell Research Law
Newspapers and policy makers statewide recently have expressed their opinions on a new law signed by Gov. Gray Davis (D) last month that provides legal protection for embryonic stem cell research, including research on stem cells taken from cloned embryos. The following are summaries of the editorials and opinion pieces on the stem cell law:
Bakersfield Californian: Davis' approval of the bill allows "California to retain its reputation for leading-edge biotechnology that holds great promise in many areas of medicine," according to a Bakersfield Californian editorial. The law permits "medical researchers in the state to pursue development beyond the restrictions imposed by President Bush last year," the editorial states. With stem cell research proponents saying that the federal guidelines "too severely restrict research," the Californian says the new state law will allow scientists to use stem cells to find cures for "debilitating and often fatal diseases" (Bakersfield Californian, 9/24).
Oakland Tribune: Although California's first-in-the-nation stem cell research law is "directly at odds with Bush administration rules," the Oakland Tribune says it "agree[s] with what the state is doing." While Congress could pass a law banning stem cell research, the editorial says, "Decisions such as this should be made based on science, not politics." Recognizing the "possible medical benefits of stem cell research," the editorial concludes, "California [should] lead the field in such research, which benefits [the] state's extensive biotechnology industry, [rather] than lag behind" (Oakland Tribune, 9/30).
Sacramento Bee: California has "taken the chill off" stem cell research by passing the new law, according to a Sacramento Bee editorial. The editorial says that the law "does not trump" President Bush's policy on federal funding for stem cells. Instead, the legislation takes "the reasonable step" of allowing patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization the option of donating their excess embryos to research, the editorial says. Because these embryos will be stored, destroyed or donated if not used, the Bee says "stopping researchers from using these embryos would not prohibit their creations, and so really serves no true purpose." The editorial concludes, "This bill is the right step toward ethical oversight of new research that may save lives. Other states should follow California's lead" (Sacramento Bee, 10/8).
San Jose Mercury News: By signing the stem cell research bill, Davis has put California "on a collision course" with the Bush administration. The bill is set to take effect Jan. 1, but the editorial says it "may be only symbolic if federal law outlawing or severely restricting" such research is approved. The Mercury News concludes, "California has already made the decision to go forward. ... The federal government now should do the same" (San Jose Mercury News, 9/24).
- Dr. Michael Goldman, professor of genetics, bioethics and development at San Francisco State University: Davis' approval of the stem cell research law "sends a strong message encouraging forefront biomedical research in the state," but it is "largely symbolic," Goldman writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. Goldman notes that the law "does not, and cannot ... reverse the unhappy course of events at the national level." Goldman concludes: "Californians can be proud that our lawmakers have set the stage for the state's continued leadership in biomedical research, but we must not be complacent about flawed reasoning in the nation's capital. If pending federal legislation criminalizing stem cell research is passed, then even California's progressive laws will be futile against the tide of intransigence" (Goldman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/7).
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.