October 27, 2007
Prop 15 opposition ramps up

It was reported earlier that there was no organized opposition to Proposition 15. Now it appears that some has emerged.

A well-known social conservative is urging Texans to oppose a $3 billion bond proposal for cancer research, warning the money could be used for controversial embryonic stem cell testing.

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, cautioned fellow Republicans in an e-mail this week that the borrowed money -- $300 million annually over 10 years -- might not stay in Texas and could be used for research on human embryos.

"And because legislators failed to pass a prohibition to embryonic stem cell research ... the money could be used to take lives, rather than to save lives," she wrote.

Backers of Proposition 15 on the Nov. 6 ballot said they think Adams' fears are politically unfounded, although some agree that Texas law does not explicitly forbid using state money for embryonic stem cell research.


Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody pointed out that the governor is a strong advocate of Proposition 15 but "staunchly opposes" embryonic stem cell research.

Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick will each appoint three voting members to an oversight committee and a scientific research and prevention committee in charge of granting cancer research funds, she said, noting these powers will serve as checks and balances regarding the use of Proposition 15 funds.

"Although there is no statutory language that prohibits dedicating state funds, there's also no statutory language that allows embryonic stem cell research," she said, concluding there could be "serious liability" in a civil court for a scientist conducting embryonic stem cell research with Texas tax dollars.

Seems unlikely in the extreme to me, as things stand, that the oversight committee is going to fund stem cell research. I suppose it's possible that a future Lege could pave a path for that (they could also pass the anti-stem cell legislation that Adams wants), and then some of this money could be used for it at that time. I do have to wonder why this is just being brought up now - methinks the anti-Prop 15 folks, who are already a tad bit touchy about their image, might be getting a little desperate.

Be that as it may, here's a question for you. What happens if a few years down the line embryonic stem cells are definitively shown to have cancer-curing properties? The research is going on, here and elsewhere, whether the Eagle Forum likes it or not, after all. It's one thing to oppose a theoretical benefit, or a bond measure, it's another thing to look at a cancer victim and say that a bunch of stem cells have more value than they do. I think the opposition falls apart at that point, and that will be fine by me. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 27, 2007 to Election 2007