An Associated Press-AOL News poll has recently indicated that 56 per cent of US adults support relaxing restrictions on using federal money to pay for embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. The latest figures come as New Jersey pledges millions to support and expand ES cell research in the state, whilst two legislators in Missouri have announced they will challenge the recently narrowly-approved Amendment 2, which permits therapeutic cloning research.
New Jersey State Governor Jon Corzine has approved $10 million worth of grants for stem cell research in the state for this year - $7 million of which will be directed towards ES cell research. In addition to the cash injection into the research, Corzine has pledged $270 million into improving and expanding three New Jersey stem cell research facilities. He has also announced that he intends to ask voters to approve $230 million for stem cell research in the course of the current year. It is hoped that these grants will establish New Jersey as a worldwide leader in the research. 'In the absence of support at the federal level, New Jersey's commitment will ensure our continuing status as the medicine chest to the nation and the world', said the New Jersey Governor.
As New Jersey moved to secure the future of ES cell research, doubts have been raised in Missouri over the life of Amendment 2. Missourian voters passed the amendment to the constitution that banned human reproductive cloning whilst permitting 'therapeutic' human embryo cloning for research purposes, by a narrow margin of 51 votes to 49 last November. Missouri Republican Jim Lembke and Senator Matt Bartle have announced they hope to attempt to overturn the amendment to the constitution and prohibit all forms of human cloning, including therapeutic cloning research. According to Mr Lembke, 'Our focus is to ban all human cloning, including research cloning'. Senator Matt Bartle commented that 'Most Missourians do not want to constitutionally protect human cloning. What we are proposing today is a genuine ban on human cloning'.
The two legislators claim the amendment contains deceptive language and that voters did not fully understand the implications of the legislation. Of the 2400 words making the amendment, only a hundred word ballot summary was given to voters. They also point out the potential of exploiting women for their ova by way of financial reimbursement. But reversing the amendment may be difficult, say some commentators, as even most Republicans support the legislation. Missouri stem cell businesses will also fight any proposals to overturn the amendment. If the state Legislature allows the proposal to go on the ballot, a vote would not take place until 2008. Senator Bartle has said that if the proposal is rejected, they would attempt to collect enough signatures for the proposal to be placed on the ballot.