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California 'divided' on ES cell research

16 August 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 271

Voters in California are said to be 'evenly divided' over a bill that would provide the state with $3 billion of funding for human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. Known as Proposition 71, or the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, the bill will be part of the 2 November ballot. If passed, it would provide $295 million per year for 10 years to Californian universities, research institutes and companies involved in research into ES cells taken from human embryos that are less than two weeks old.

The bill would also allow funding to be allocated for cloning projects to create ES cells for regenerative therapies, but specifies that cloning for reproductive purposes is not to be allowed. The group behind the bill, Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures (CSCRC), also proposed that a 29-member panel be set up, appointed by state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, chancellors of the University of California and other officials, to distribute the funds in the form of grants.

The proposal qualified for the ballot in June. In order to do so, CSCRC had to obtain the signatures of 600,000 Californians by 16 April, but the petition far exceeded this number: over one million voters had signed by that date. Supporters of the proposal then submitted the petition to Kevin Shelley, the Californian Secretary of State, who authorised it for ballot. If the proposal succeeds, California would be the first state in the US to publicly fund ES cell research.

A new Field Poll survey, taken between 30 July and 8 August this year, shows that 45 per cent of voters support the proposition, while 42 per cent are opposed to it. Thirteen per cent of the 534 voters surveyed said they were 'undecided' on the matter. Support was found to be roughly equal along age, gender and educational lines, although it was found that voters below the age of 40, women and graduates were slightly more likely to be supportive than older people, men and non-graduates. The strongest opposition was found on religious grounds, with the greatest opposition coming from those who identified themselves as 'born-again' Christians or Catholic. Support was highest among those who identified themselves as non-Christian or not religious.

The proposition 71 debate has 'become a microcosm - California size - of the equally polarised national presidential race', said Keay Davidson in the San Francisco Chronicle, where the survey results are printed in full. The survey also found that 57 per cent of people intending to vote for Democrat John Kerry also intend to vote in favour of Proposition 71, while 59 per cent of those who plan to vote for President Bush intend to vote against it. Mark DiCamillo, director of Field Poll, commented that 'preference on the issue of stem cells has a direct correlation to the vote choice in the presidential election'.

California Voters Divided In Support Of Ballot Measure That Would Fund Stem Cell Research
Kaiser Network |  16 August 2004
Calif. Voters Divided On Stem Cell Research
Reuters |  15 August 2004
Stem Cell Initiative Leads By Small Margin
San Francisco Chronicle |  15 August 2004
22 May 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
California's stem cell programme is now free to start distributing its $3 billion funding to researchers, following the refusal of the state's Supreme Court to consider another legal challenge. The high court upheld last year's ruling by a lower court, which upheld the constitutionality of the...
2 October 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that prevents both private and state-funded laboratories from paying women to donate eggs for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The Reproductive Health and Research Bill (SB1260), sponsored by state Senators Deborah Ortiz and...
5 December 2005 - by BioNews 
Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the US state of California's stem cell programme have been knocked back by a judge at Almeda County Superior Court. Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw has ruled that the legal arguments relied upon by opponents of the stem cell programme do not stand up, meaning that...
21 November 2005 - by BioNews 
The state Senate of Ohio has approved legislation that would limit the use of state funds for 'therapeutic' cloning and human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. It would also prevent people in the state benefiting from therapies developed in other states or countries that had been developed using cloning techniques...
29 March 2005 - by BioNews 
The California Supreme Court has thrown out two lawsuits that sought to get rid of the state's $3 billion stem cell research funding initiative. The high court refused to hear the cases, but said that its ruling won't prevent the lawsuits from being filed again, in a trial court. Both...
9 August 2004 - by BioNews 
The Californian Republican Party has voted at its annual convention to oppose a bill that would provide the state with $3 billion dollars for embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The California Research and Cures Initiative, which began in February, is backed by the group Californians for Stem Cell Research and...
7 June 2004 - by BioNews 
A bond proposal organised by the group Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures (CSCRC) in order to facilitate state funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research, has qualified for ballot on 2 November. The campaign, which began in February, aimed to establish a three billion dollar bond. The campaign...
26 April 2004 - by BioNews 
Over one million citizens of California have signed a petition supporting a three billion dollar bond to have a bill promoting embryonic stem (ES) cell research included in the November ballot. When the campaign to gain support for the measure began, in February, only 600,000 supporting signatures were required by...
11 February 2004 - by BioNews 
A campaign has begun in the US state of California to include a bill in the November ballot to facilitate funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research by establishing a three billion dollar bond. The bill is seen as a 'counter' to the stem cell policies of President George W...
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