Conservative Democratic Lawmakers Seek To Block Pennsylvania Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research

A group of self-described “pro-life Democrats” in Pennsylvania convened a hearing on Tuesday to rally efforts to block state funding for embryonic stem cell research, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to the Inquirer, Democrat-sponsored state legislation that would finance stem cell research has “languished for years in the Republican-controlled legislature,” and new efforts by state Democrats to block such funding have “angered moderate lawmakers” who are seeking to provide state money for the research. “This is an attempt to block my bill,” Rep. Babette Josephs (D), sponsor of a measure to allow embryonic stem cell funding, said at Tuesday’s hearing. Rep. Tom Tangretti (D) said at a state House Democratic Policy Committee hearing organized by the conservative Democrats that the research is “fraught with problems” and “causes huge moral, ethical and religious concerns,” adding that he backs funding of adult stem cell research as an alternative. Gov. Ed Rendell’s (D) spokesperson Kate Philips said, “The governor agrees with the majority of Americans who feel strongly that this is an issue about life and the ability to save and prolong human lives through this valuable research.” She said Rendell feels constrained by an abortion-control law that was passed in 1989. The law bans nonthereaputic stem cell research on embryos produced in the state but allows research on embryonic stem cells legally obtained out of the state, Inquirer reports. Some people say because the act does not specifically address the embryonic stem cell research issue, there is a possibility the research could be funded. The law would have to be modified to clarify the state’s position on stem cell research, according to Steve Miskin, spokesperson for Majority Leader Sam Smith (R) (Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/26).

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