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A key lawmaker who often disagrees with Governor Jim Doyle on embryonic stem cell research said Wednesday that he saw nothing inappropriate about the governor's use of an executive order as an instrument to fund the recruiting of stem cell companies.
Meanwhile, the executive order, signed Tuesday at the Medical College of Wisconsin, drew a sharp rebuke from the director of Pro Life Wisconsin.
Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, said it is within the governor's purview to take existing funds and direct them to certain areas. "It's important to engage the Legislature in discussions for policy purposes," Kanavas said, but he did not dispute that it was within Doyle's authority to direct the Department of Commerce to spend at least $5 million in economic development money to recruit new stem cell companies to Wisconsin. The goal of the strategy is to capture 10 percent of the stem cell technology market by 2015.
Kanavas has voted with Legislative majorities to enact a comprehensive ban on human cloning, including therapeutic cloning used in research. With therapeutic cloning, an embryo is allowed to develop to the 100 to 200 cell stage, at which point stem cells are isolated for immediate or future use in cell transplantation therapies. The embryo is destroyed in the process of isolating the stem cells.
Doyle vetoed such a ban last year, citing the criminalization of "some of the most promising scientific techniques used by stem cell researchers." But Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said the governor overruled the consciences of the Assembly, Senate, and the people of Wisconsin in vetoing a common sense measure.
On Wednesday, Hamill said Doyle is trying to emotionally blackmail the citizens of Wisconsin by pinning their hopes for potential cures, which would happen only years down the road if at all, on research that his own Catholic faith condemns as "horrendously immoral." In signing the executive order, Doyle cited the potential of stem cell research to help scientists find therapies for life-threatening and debilitating diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. The governor's mother suffers from Parkinson's disease, and while he acknowledged Tuesday that stem cell research probably won't help her, he said it has the potential to help future generations.
"The embryos on whom the governor is promoting research are people - they have their own distinct DNA and if they were created naturally and not manipulated by scientists, they would gestate and grow up to look like you and me," Hamill stated. "They are our brothers and sisters."
Doyle has tied the state's economic future to the knowledge economy, including stem cell research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin. He said experts predict that the market for stem cell products could reach $10 billion over the next ten years, translating into more than 100,000 jobs.
Hamill, however, believes that moral considerations trump economics. "Gov. Doyle now wants us to trust him with inviting 10% of the nation's embryonic stem cell researchers to our state, with no safeguards in place," she said. "The researchers to whom Gov. Doyle has made a habit of handing our tax dollars show a callous disregard for human life when they conduct embryo-destructive research."Executive order
Executive Order # 147