Mel Gibson Announces Opposition to Ballot Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research
Actor Mel Gibson on Thursday spoke out against Proposition 71 -- a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund embryonic stem cell research -- and gave the opposition campaign a recorded 60-second voice message, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Elias, AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/29).
Proposition 71 would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote human stem cell research and 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 could cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/28).
On ABC's "Good Morning America," Gibson said he has an "ethical problem" with the measure (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/29). "I was never in a Petri dish, but at one stage I was that little cluster of cells myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody. Tell me anybody who wasn't that at some point in their development, and I'll give you a cigar," Gibson said (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 10/29).
Officials for the campaign against Proposition 71 -- who have raised about $226,000 to oppose the measure -- are still discussing how to use Gibson's message, which arrived unexpectedly Thursday, according to campaign spokesperson Tim Rosales.
According to the Bee, Gibson is the first Hollywood celebrity to publicly announce opposition to Proposition 71.
Rosales said Gibson is "a great spokesperson" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/29).
In the "Good Morning America" interview, Gibson also said he is waiting for a telephone call from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), whom Gibson had previously called to discuss the governor's endorsement of the initiative.
Schwarzenegger said, "I don't know what that was about. I did talk to him for several minutes and explained to him what my position was. I called back at 9 o'clock and left a message on his phone. He hasn't returned my call" (Los Angeles Times, 10/29).
The California Nurses Association and the Center for Genetics and Society -- groups that support stem cell research but oppose the funding mechanism in Proposition 71 -- have created an "unusual allianc[e]" with groups that oppose abortion rights and oppose Proposition 71 for ethical reasons to campaign against the measure.
CNA President Deborah Burger said, "We had hoped we could support Proposition 71. But the more we talked to (its supporters) ... we realized that if we didn't come out against it we would be neglecting our patient advocacy role, especially for women."
Fiona Hutton, spokesperson for Proposition 71 supporters, said, "At the end of the day you've got some fringe groups on the right and fringe on the left, and the whole reason they're united and opposing us is because they are opposed to in-vitro fertilization clinics" (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/29).
KPCC's "AirTalk" on Thursday included an interview with Schwarzenegger about several propositions on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, including Proposition 71, which he has endorsed (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 10/28). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
ABCNews' "20/20" on Friday at 10 p.m. ET is scheduled to include a commentary by show co-anchor John Stossel on Proposition 71 (Stossel, "20/20," ABCNews, 10/29). A related ABCNews story is available online.
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.