Opponents of Measure To Fund Stem Cell Research Cite Financial, Rather Than Ethical Reasons
The campaign against a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund stem cell research has "largely turned away from the ethical matters that have dominated" the national debate on the issue and is now largely based on financial arguments, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15).
Proposition 71, an initiative on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, would fund stem cell research by issuing state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote 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 would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/14).
Recently, some groups have criticized Proposition 71, saying they are in favor of stem cell research but oppose the measure's method of public financing, according to the Chronicle.
For example, the newly formed Pro-Choice Alliance Against Prop. 71 on Wednesday held a press conference in Sacramento to "press the case" that the debate over Proposition 71 is no longer a "conflict between the religious right and the pro-choice left," the Chronicle reports. In addition, the San Mateo County Medical Association withdrew its early endorsement of the measure upon further review of financial and other details.
Concerned that Proposition 71 is only a "referendum on Bush's stem cell policy," Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said approving the measure would be an expensive symbolic vote against the administration's decision (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15).
The California Nurses Association on Thursday announced that it opposes Proposition 71, despite its official endorsement of embryonic stem cell research, the Sacramento Bee reports. Leaders of the group, which represents about 58,000 registered nurses statewide, said they are concerned that the measure could allow private drug companies to benefit from research conducted by public funds and that women who voluntarily donate their eggs for research would not be properly informed of medical risks.
Roger Salazar, spokesperson for the Yes on 71 campaign, said the measure would be funded the same way NIH finances federally sponsored stem cell research (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 10/15).
The San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday examined the position of venture capitalists toward Proposition 71. Some venture capitalists say the measure would allow companies to let taxpayers take the risk on the ability of stem cell research to produce successful therapies and then "swoop in hoping to make millions," the Union-Tribune reports
Jonathan MacQuitty of Abingworth Management said, "I'm only lukewarm about the current proposal," adding, "In the current financial state of California, it's not clear to me that this isn't a zero-sum game" (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/15).
KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?" on Thursday included interviews with and Treasurer Phil Angelides (D); Larry Goldstein, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego and one of the authors of Proposition 71; Jennifer Lahl, national director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, which is opposed to Proposition 71; and Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 10/14). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. In addition, KQED's "This Week" on Friday will include a segment on Proposition 71 (Shafer, "This Week," KQED, 10/15). The complete segment will be available online after the broadcast.
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.