On Tuesday, Gov. Blagojevich issued an executive order earmarking 10 million dollars of the state's 55 million dollar budget for stem cell research, including that which requires the destruction of human embryos. The Chicago Tribune (free registration required) reports that Blagojevich asserted that his was the "morally right" decision and quotes the Democratic governor as saying that he is prepared for any backlash he receives as a result of it: "So whatever criticism and remarks that come my way--and I suspect there will be a firestorm of criticism because I'm using executive power--I enthusiastically embrace it. I feel very good about this decision." Frankly, I don't care how the governor feels about his decision. I'm interested in hearing his reasons for believing, as he surely must, that embryonic human life is not deserving of protection.
The Trib article describes the governor's underhanded methodology:
The governor's order follows the defeat of several stem-cell research measures in the spring session of the legislature. The most ambitious plan, pushed by state Comptroller Dan Hynes, proposed increasing taxes on cosmetic surgery to raise $100 million for research.
Although Blagojevich opposed Hynes' proposed tax increase, he supported allocating more money for stem-cell research, and the two hatched the plan to plug the $10 million into the $55 million budget that took effect July 1.In a response to the governor's order, Peter LaBarbera, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute writes, "The governor has done an end-run around the legislative process to fund research that advances a utilitarian agenda in which the end justifies the means."
The money was added as a single line item to the budget of the Illinois Department of Public Health and was listed as being "for scientific research," without mentioning stem cells.
Sarah Flashing (yes, the Intellectuelle ), Director of Public Relations for the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, issued the following press release today:
The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (CBHD) strongly denounces Gov. Blagojevich's executive order to fund embryonic stem cell research through the creation of the Illinois Regenerative Institute for Stem Cell Research with 10 million Illinois taxpayer dollars.
"Though it's commendable to want to help those who are suffering debilitating diseases and injuries, it is unconscionable to do so at the expense of other human lives," said Dr. John Kilner, president of CBHD. "This is an imposition of morally problematic research on the citizens of Illinois. The people have already spoken through the democratic process- legislation to promote this research failed in the General Assembly. Stem cell research can be pursued ethically by focusing research on adult stem cells, including cord blood cells."
Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, Senior Fellow at CBHD said, "The governor's action is not only morally reprehensible, but should be a signal to every Illinois voter. If he will not protect the most vulnerable among us, he cannot be trusted to protect the rest of us."
Gov. Blagojevich's executive order comes on the eve of CBHD's 12th Annual Bioethics Conference, Genetics and Reproductive Ethics, to be held July 14- 16, 2005 on the campus of Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. A media reception will be held on Thursday, July 14th, from 5 to 6 p.m. Details can be obtained by calling 847.317.4097. Speakers for the Bioethics Conference include Leon Kass, head of the President's Council on Bioethics and Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project. Other speakers such as Princeton University's Robert George will explain why the embryos destroyed in embryonic stem cell research should be recognized and treated as the human beings they are. Other conference topics will include reproductive and genetic technologies, cloning, and embryo adoption.Since Governor Blagojevich is prepared for criticism, I hope Illinois readers won't disappoint him. You can contact his office via the web or by calling (217) 782-0244 or (312) 814-2121.