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California's stem cell funding under challenge

28 February 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 297

Two groups in California have begun a legal action seeking to invalidate Proposition 71, the $3 billion dollar stem cell research funding initiative approved by voters in the state last November. The November ballot, in which 59 per cent of Californians voted in favour of state funding for human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research, allowed California to break away from federal restrictions on the research. A policy put in place by President Bush on 9 August 2001 prevents federal funds being spent on research on ES cells created after that date.

Now, a 'politically conservative public interest group', called Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science (CPAES), has started an action in the California Supreme Court, saying that provisions in Proposition 71, which exempt members of the newly-created California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) from some government conflict-of-interest laws, are illegal and unconstitutional. The group also contends that the ballot in which Proposition 71 was passed violated the state's laws, which require each proposition to be based on a single subject.

CIRM is governed by the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee, which has 29 appointed members, including five appointed by state Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 29 members are in charge of awarding CIRM's research grants, loans and contracts. The second lawsuit argues that the California Constitution makes it clear that taxpayers' money must be under the exclusive management and control of the state. It says that the way the new initiative is set up violates that requirement. Lawyer Dana Cody of the Life Legal Defence Foundation, a pro-life lawyers' group, who brought the started legal action, said 'the funding goes to an entity called the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee', adding 'there really is no teeth to the so-called accountability measures that are contained within the initiative language'. She added that it is problematic that the 29 members are appointed, and come from 'special-interest advocacy groups'.

Only two other members of the CPAES have been identified - one is Dr Vincent Fortanasce, who was president of the 'No on 71' campaign, and the other is Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic who founded Joni and Friends Ministries in Agoura Hills. In a statement, Tada said that 'people need to get the message that this proposition is an enormous expenditure of money in a financially strapped state for human embryo research that is increasingly seen as problematic and hypothetical'. However, a spokeswoman for the CIRM said that the fact proposition 71 was passed with the majority it had shows that the majority of Californians 'felt comfortable that there was ample oversight and accountability built into the initiative'.

Group Files Lawsuit to Block Stem-Cell Work
LA Times |  23 February 2005
Petitions challenge stem-cell initiative's constitutionality
San Diego Union Tribune |  23 February 2005
Suit Filed to Stop Stem Cell Institute
ABC News |  22 February 2005
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...
20 December 2004 - by BioNews 
The first chairman has been appointed to oversee the newly created Californian Institute for Regenerative Medicine, it was reported last week. Robert N Klein, a real estate developer, was also one of the brains behind Proposition 71, the bill passed on 2 November that allowed California to break away from...
4 November 2004 - by BioNews 
Voters in the US state of California have passed Proposition 71, a bill also known as the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. Fifty-nine per cent of people voted in favour, with 41 per cent voting against the measure, which will establish California as the first state to publicly...
20 October 2004 - by BioNews 
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California, has formally endorsed a bill that, if passed, would provide $3 billion of funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the state over the next ten years. The bill, known as proposition 71, or the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative...
16 August 2004 - by BioNews 
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 (ES) cell research. Known as Proposition 71, or the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, the bill will be part of the 2...
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