Chicago Tribune Examines Proposition 71 Campaign
The Chicago Tribune on Sunday examined the campaign surrounding Proposition 71, which would provide funding for stem cell research (Schodolski, Chicago Tribune, 8/1). The initiative will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot and would raise an average of $295 million annually for 10 years to promote stem cell research through the issuance of state bonds. The measure would provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest. Initiative supporters hope to raise $20 million for the campaign (California Healthline, 7/19).
Both Nancy Reagan and Ron Reagan are "outspoken advocates" of stem cell research, but neither has indicated support for Proposition 71, the Tribune reports.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has said that he supports stem cell research but has not taken a position on the initiative, according to the Tribune.
Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said, "It is irresponsible not to do research on" embryonic stem cells, adding, "We don't believe that stems cells are human beings."
Dennis Rodgerson, CEO of the Ventura County-based NeoStem, a privately owned stem cell bank, said that Proposition 71 "is a good initiative," but he added, "The real therapy at the moment is all with adult stem cells."
Carrie Gordon Earll, a senior policy analyst on bioethics for Focus on the Family, said that the group opposes Proposition 71 because it requires the destruction of embryos and because of California's large budget deficit, the Tribune reports. "Private investors are steering clear of this kind of research. In California they are asking voters to spend money to prop up a financially risky business," Gordon Earll said.
James Walter, a professor of bioethics at Los Angeles-based Loyola Marymount University, said that he opposes Proposition 71 because it "is more about cloning than anything else. It is also about the commoditization of embryos." He added that "[n]ot one person has been helped by" embryonic stem cells, but "[t]housands have been helped by [adult] stem cells."
Roger Robins, a professor of history and political science at Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes, said that he opposes Proposition 71 because although California "is a pro-choice state," it is "also a bankrupt state" (Chicago Tribune, 8/1).