Stem cells have taken center stage in California. In November 2004, California’s voters approved, with 59 percent of the vote, a measure that would spend three billion dollars in borrowed state funds to pay for research that requires the destruction of human embryos.
You might expect a heated debate over whether such research is morally acceptable—and whether the state government should be in the business of paying for it, especially with a bond measure, and especially given the state’s precarious financial footing.
A few pro-life groups opposed the initiative, as did many fiscal conservatives, but they spent little money, and it’s hard to overcome the star power of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who lent his massive credibility to the plan. With the death of Christopher Reeve, and with the widely publicized claims about the potential for this research to solve every medical problem under the sun, it was unreasonable, perhaps, to expect California’s voters to reject Prop. 71.
Now that the election is over, some obvious problems are coming to the surface. Californians are getting the broader debate that should have taken place before November. Democratic Sen. Debra Ortiz, who strongly backed Prop. 71, introduced a bill that would give state legislators some oversight of the stem-cell spending process.
That proposal was attacked instantly...