By John Connolly

  TRENTON, November 12, 2007 ( – A New Jersey vote last Tuesday has gathered mixed reactions after voters overwhelmingly turned down a $450 million loan proposal to fund stem cell research facilities statewide over the next ten years.

  Both sides of the heated debate agree that the key to the vote, which rejected the loan proposal by a margin of 53-47, was voters’ exasperation over New Jersey’s $3 billion budget deficit.

“I truly believe the people saw through the promises that we can cure all kinds of disease by throwing $450 million at stem cell research,” said Steve Lonegan, Republican mayor of Bogota, New Jersey. “This government can’t manage itself out of a paper bag; how is it going to oversee the complexities of stem cell research?”

  Opposition to the stem cell funding measure was led by Catholics and New Jersey Right to Life. Five Catholic bishops provided educational measures to help voters distinguish between adult stem cell research, which the Catholic Church allows and encourages, and embryonic stem cell research, which the Church forbids due to the destruction of human life inherent in the process.

“Although the intent of the bond question is to provide funding of embryonic stem cells, it does provide for some funding of research into adult stem cells,” Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark wrote in the archdiocesan newspaper. “Our hope is that all funding would be devoted to adult stem cells because of the moral dilemma that embryonic stem-cell research causes.” 

“I definitely think this vote is significant for other states,” said attorney and bioethics critic Wesley J. Smith, in an interview with LifeSiteNews. He said that while the vote was not a moral statement by the populace, it was at least a statement about the bioethics industry and where it ranks in the values of voters. “They’re saying that during time where we have issues with our resources, we think it is the epitome of profligacy to borrow $450 million to give to big research,” he said. “To get what they want, the people pushing this agenda will have to overstep the voters, as is already happening in New Jersey.”

  Stem cell research advocates, among whom New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine is counted, dismissed the vote as unrepresentative due to low voter turnout.

“What I think we are charged to do is get to work on restructuring the finances of the state,” Corzine said. “That’s the message I got. Not all the other implications. I would say that in any circumstance where you get 25 percent of the vote out, the people who organize the best around their issue are going to tend to have the greatest influence. I think that’s what you saw.”

  Corzine has also managed to enrage voters by proceeding with funding for the construction of stem cell research facilities. The $270 million needed for these facilities will come from a measure on which there will be no vote, despite Corzine’s statements about “getting the message” that voters disapprove of spending on stem cell research.

  See previous coverage:

  Clinton Vows to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research as President

  Ethical Stem Cell Research Gets New Blood with US House Funding Bill

  Congress Attempts to Lift Ban on Federal Funding for Embryo Research – Again: Bush Will Veto 


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