Despite its current financial crisis, the Illinois Senate voted Friday to approve grant funding for embryonic and adult stem-cell research.
Senate Bill 4, which passed 35-23, creates the Stem-Cell Research and Human Cloning Prohibition Act. It now goes to the House.
Supporters say the research could lead to treatments for several diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
State Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-Crystal Lake, voted against it because she objected to using taxes to fund research grants when the state is six months behind in its bills – and because it is controversial.
“I support stem-cell research,” Althoff said. “However, this legislation creates a grant program that utilizes state money at a time when the State of Illinois is having difficulty prioritizing educational needs, pension obligations and is six months behind in paying its bills.”
Althoff also said it was inappropriate to use state dollars for a grant program that is so contentious.
“Forty-eight percent of the population in McHenry County finds embryonic stem-cell research morally objectionable,” she said.
Irene Napier, president of Right to Life McHenry County, said the state should not fund research that did not show promise to cure disease.
“We approve of stem-cell research, but not embryonic stem-cell research,” said Napier of Crystal Lake. “Any kind of research that deserves our taxes to fund it is research that shows promise. And that is adult stem cell and umbilical cord stem cell. Embryonic stem-cell research has not had one iota of hope in that area.”
Althoff said a better measure was Senate Bill 19 sponsored by State Sen. William Haine, D-St. Louis, which would establish a statewide network of umbilical cord banks and supports umbilical cord stem-cell research.
“To date, there are absolutely no successful studies that have shown embryonic stem-cell research will cure or help any of the diseases frequently referenced – like juvenile diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis or epilepsy,” Althoff said. “Haine’s bill promotes umbilical cord stem-cell research because it has a proven track record.”
By BRENDA SCHORY