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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Proposition 71, The California Stem Cell Initiative: wrong way to fight for liberalization of Stem Cell research.

As I have mentioned here before, I am totally against the "Borrow and Spend" economics of Bush. One of the things I have also mentioned here is my absolute hatred of hypocricy, so I'm going to strike a blow for consistency here.

A bond issue is the wrong way to fight the national restrictions on Stem Cell research. Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that the Feds need to untie the hands of our medical scientists and allow research on human stem cells, even if those stem cells come from aborted blastocysts or surplus blastocysts created by fertility treatments. A California initiative written simply to show defiance of the Federal ban and to explicitly allow privately-funded research using fetal stem cells in this state would have sufficed. However, putting up an almost $3 Billion bond over 10 years to fund fetal stem cell research is the wrong move. California is servicing a shipload of bonded indebtedness as it is. We shouldn't place California in further debt for anything but a very, very good reason. And even though Stem Cell research is a good reason, it doesn't rise to the level where busting the budget is required.

If this had been a bond issue to, for example, fund putting all Californians who cannot afford medical care into the MediCal program, I would be supporting it, big time. That would head off any attempt to balance the State or Federal budget on the backs of the poor and disabled. If this had been a bond issue to fund a Shinkansen "bullet train" to service the route now taken by the Coast Starlight between San Diego and San Francisco, providing a real alternative to driving the route for millions of Californians, I'd also be supporting that.

The fact is that there is plenty of private funds available for Stem Cell research, if only they could be used for that purpose. Do you think that Big Pharma wants to pass up the possibility of more treatments they can patent and sell? Do you think they enjoy sitting out this very promising research??? They want in, but George W. Bush has them hogtied thanks to the "limited stem cell line" regulations. If California gave the legal OK to pursue this research with a ballot proposition affirming that in this state we allow such research, we'd have more bioresearch jobs and growth in the biomedical sector.

California has led the way before with progressive decisions before the Feds get around to the same conclusion. California women got the vote on local and California State elections in 1911, nine years before women got the vote nationwide. California was one of the first US States to allow "compassionate use" of Marijuana for those patients who would benefit from its many applications to ease pain, restimulate appetites for food ravaged by AIDS and by Cancer Chemotherapy, and to lower intra-ocular pressure in Glaucoma patients. We can lead the way again if we just approved a simple ballot measure to explicitly allow fetal Stem Cell research. We just don't need to approve $Billions in bonded indebtedness in the process.

Oh yeah, one more thing that should be in such a bill or ballot measure: a clause reading "Nothing about this law can be construed to allow the cloning of humans for reproductive or other purposes." Cloning humans is wrong. Hell, the current experiments with cloning animals has shown that they live shorter and more painful lives, and I believe that, for the sake of humane treatment of animals, the research into the process should be stopped. The companies that are racing to allow the cloning of Kitty or Fido for pet owners who can't bear to think of losing their pets are taking advantage of our attachment to our pet animals. They are also showing their total disregard for the products of the cloning of pet animals...the cloned creatures themselves. Is it fair to bring an animal into the world who will have a shorter and more disease-ridden life when there are so many other alternatives, like adoption of a Shelter kitty or puppy in memory of the dead pet? And if animals suffer as a result of cloning, it is clear that cloned humans would suffer and die young as well.

Anyway, here are links to official pro and anti Prop 71 sites. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

Pro-Prop 71:

Anti-Prop 71: