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The states and stem cell research

Genetic Crossroads
September 29th, 2005

The states and stem cell research:

Massachusetts has formed a committee to monitor and regulate human embryonic stem cell research in the state. The Biomedical Advisory Council held its first meeting on September 21.

In Florida, a group is now gathering signatures to place an initiative on the 2006 ballot that would allocate $200 million to fund embryonic stem cell research. The author of the short constitutional amendment, Louis M. Guenin of Harvard Medical School, said, "The California initiative is a lesson in how not to do this. The California amendment was 30 pages and loaded with all sorts of problems that I've tried to avoid here." The amendment would grant all authority for the $20 million annual appropriation to the state Department of Health. In response, an anti-abortion rights coalition is now gathering signatures for a counter initiative, that would constitutionally prohibit any public funding of research that destroys embryos.

New Jersey has promised hundreds of millions of dollars to support embryonic stem cell research. In August the first appropriation was actually available, and the state Commission on Science and Technology will begin reviewing grant applications for the first $5 million.

In its list of regional stories that received inadequate coverage in mainstream media, the San Francisco Bay Guardian-northern California's largest alternative weekly-places "The real stem cell debate" at number 2: "In the months leading up to last fall's election, virtually all the major media stories portrayed the battle over the stem cell initiative, Proposition 71, as pitting conservative Christians against liberals. In fact, as Tali Woodward reported in the Bay Guardian, there were many liberal, pro-choice critics - and only after the election did the major media start reporting on the issues those critics raised."


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