Sacramento Clergy Will Hold Media Event To Highlight Opposition to Proposition 71
A group of Sacramento-area ministers plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday outside the University of California-Davis Medical Center to "denounce" Proposition 71, a bond measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund human stem cell research, the Sacramento Bee reports (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 10/26). The initiative would issue 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 could cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/25).
The Rev. Jonathan Zachariou, a minister at Davis Christian Assembly Church and organizer of the press conference, said he believes that he has a moral obligation to publicly oppose the initiative, which has been endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
"I want my conscience to be clear that I did all that I could, that I made as big a noise as I could," Zachariou said, adding, "It's a human embryo we want to slice and dice. It has parallels to Nazi Germany in a sense because we are saying the ends justify the means."
Tim Rosales, spokesperson for the "No on 71" campaign, said, "While (opponents) disagree for various reasons, it speaks to how widespread and diverse the opposition is. There is something in this proposition for everyone to dislike."
However, Marcy Darnovsky, executive director for the Center for Genetics and Society and abortion rights supporter campaigning against Proposition 71, said she would be "unhappy" with the ministers' press conference if it "further muddies the water and makes progressive and pro-choice voters feel this is a referendum on the Bush administration and the pro-life movement."
Darnovsky, along with a group of embryonic stem cell research supporters, will hold a telephone press conference on Wednesday to argue against Proposition 71.
Fiona Hutton, a spokesperson for the "Yes on 71" campaign, said the press conference reveals the "real reason for opposing the initiative" -- the ethical objection rather than the financial objection (Sacramento Bee, 10/26).
Stocks of some biotechnology companies working on embryonic stem cell research went up on Monday and the gains "appear partly tied to Proposition 71," the Wall Street Journal reports. Geron shares rose $1.05 on Monday, or 16%, to $7.75; StemCells shares rose 51% to $4.09; and Aastrom Biosciences shares rose 25% to $1.44. The Journal reports that the "tightening of the presidential election may also be partly responsible" for the gains because Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) has said he would lift restrictions on federal funding for such research (Regalado/Hamilton, Wall Street Journal, 10/26).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Monday reported on Proposition 71. The segment includes comments from Dr. Evan Snyder, director of stem cell research at the Burnham Institute (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 10/25). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.