State Action Alert - California
Say No To Proposition 71!
Proposition 71 is a $3 billion bond measure that would authorize the state to borrow $3 billion over 30 years to fund stem-cell research. However, the cost escalates to $6 billion dollars by the time the bond is paid because of the additional $3 billion dollars in interest cost. Also, Proposition 71 specifically allows for human therapeutic cloning. Scientists would need tens of millions of eggs to treat prospective patients despite the fact that the egg gathering procedure side effects on woman are still unknown.
If approved, the measure would be by the democratic process, but the funding would be insulated from meaningful legislative and public accountability. The Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee that the measure creates is an oxymoron. It is troubling that this Committee is left in the control of representatives of the academic stem-cell research community, the biotechnology industry, and advocacy groupsó although proponents of Proposition 71 will state that it is under strict ethical controls. Furthermore, for three years, it specifically precludes any amendment of the initiative and even then a 70 percent supermajority of the legislature would be required to make changes.
Such actions seriously undermine the unwritten social contact that has existed between science and government in this nation as well as undermining strict ethical controls. Eliminating democratic accountability puts the public's interest in potential abuse at risk. Abuse would no doubt increase and public trust in science would be eroded without active oversight capabilities.
Also disturbing is that Proposition 71 would give scientists who conduct stem-cell research a constitutional right equivalent to freedom of religion or freedom of speech. While offering no equivalent protection for the citizens who would be the voluntary subjects of that research Proposition 71, this turns the privilege of conducting public funded research into an absolute legal protection for stem-cell researchers.
The most obvious objection for the voter of California is the economic argument. It is irresponsible for a state that is in perpetual budget crisis and with the lowest credit rating of any of the 50 states to burden the state budget even more as citizens and businesses continue to leave the state because of the unfavorable economic conditions.
Furthermore, the most important objection is that therapeutic cloning is unethical and immoral. The last time the balance between scientific autonomy and democratic values were left unaccountable to scrutiny, scientists of Nazi Germany arose to perform unimaginable research on human beings. And if one thinks that this comparison is too harsh and could not happen in the United States, one just needs to look to the infamous Tuskegee experiments, which used African American males as unwitting subjects in experiments on syphilis treatment for 40 years.
Embryonic stem-cell research has not produced a single treatment for a single patient; however, adult stem-cell research is already providing treatment and cures for patients. If Californians would want to fund such research they could do so by providing elected officials rather than vested interest groups annual appropriation of funds and accountability. Proposition 71 is wrong for California because, if approved, it would use tax-payer funding of scientific procedures that are both unethical and immoral as well as economically unsound for the state. Citizens are urged to vote NO on Proposition 71.
For more information, visit The False Promises of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
to the American Voice Institute of Public Policy Home Page