The California Catholic Conference of Bishops has voted to oppose Prop 14 on the November ballot. The measure would provide an additional $5.5 billion dollars for the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine which supports research on discarded human embryos from in vitro fertilization treatments among other projects.
The primary objection to the proposition is based on moral and ethical grounds:
“The Catholic Church ‘appreciates and encourages the progress of the biomedical sciences which open up unprecedented therapeutic prospects” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address of January 31, 2008),’ says the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “At the same time, it affirms that true service to humanity begins with respect for each and every human life…Direct attacks on innocent human life are always gravely wrong. Yet some researchers, ethicists, and policy makers claim that we may directly kill innocent embryonic human beings as if they were mere objects of research—and even that we should make taxpayers complicit in such killing through use of public funds.”
The institute originally focused more on embryonic stem cells at its founding but expanded to other types of stem cells when “progress” from the embryonic cells proved elusive. (the institute’s website heralds only one “cure” in its years of 16 years of operation but focuses on its role in streamlining the research process instead.)
The institute has also been forced to revamp its financial accountability. In 2010, a study by the Little Hoover Commission found that the institute’s board “lacked truly independent voices to balance out those of interested board members” and that “there is no compelling reason to have institutions that receive the funds so heavily represented.”
The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine – which provides grants to researchers throughout the state and nation – received $3 billion in funding from the passage of Prop 71 in 2004 . The conference opposed that proposition as well. That money has mostly been spent and the Institute now wants more from the state or it will not be able to provide any further grants. Stanford University is the major recipient of institute funds.
The above comes from a mid-August release from the California Conference of Catholic Bishops.