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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Primitives 

With 59% of the electorate against them, embryo-sniffers are turning to the courts in hopes of scuttling California's newly-created stem-cell research facility, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which could be awarding its first research grants as early as May:
Conservative public interest groups with ties to Christian organizations filed lawsuits Tuesday seeking to invalidate the $3 billion stem cell research institution approved by California voters in November . . . .

The suit was filed by the People's Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Foundation. A separate suit was filed by a newly created nonprofit called Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science.

David Llewellyn, who is representing the plaintiffs, would identify only two of the people behind the new nonprofit: Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who was president of the No on 71 campaign, and Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic who founded Joni and Friends Ministries.

Their lawsuit alleges it is illegal to exempt members of the institute from some government conflict-of-interest laws, as Proposition 71 allows . . . .

[The proposition's language] allows members to vote on awarding research grants that directly address diseases they or their family members may have. At least three members have debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. Institute interim president and chairman Robert Klein's son suffers from diabetes and his mother has Alzheimer's disease.

Ten of the committee's members represent specific disease advocacy groups, and the lawsuit alleges these appointments will improperly lead to an inordinate amount of research funding addressing those ailments to the detriment of other diseases not represented on the board.
Two quick points:

1) A researcher looking for a cure to his own disease (or his child's, or his mom's) is, to our way of thinking, a motivated researcher. Let's just say he's probably not in it for the grant money.

2) Under the current plan, stem-cell research may well focus on some diseases at the expense of others; that's a legitimate concern. Dismantling the program, as the plaintiffs propose, would guarantee that all diseases receive equal attention -- meaning none. That's a solution?

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