April 17, 2024


 The new governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has called for a US$2 billion 10-year bond issue for research and development in the state — half of it to be spent on stem cell research. Advocates of embryonic stem cell research claim that the initiative could make New York the leading state in the field.

The passage of the bill is far from assured. Governor Spitzer is attempting to sell it to depressed cities in the north of the state as part of his economic development agenda. But New York voters are notoriously resistant to referenda on "soft-focused" bond issues — and the state is already heavily burdened with debt.

It will face ethical hurdles, too, although the bill will outlaw reproductive cloning and establish a "stem cell commission" to ensure that all embryonic research in New York would be "legal, vital and ethical". Kathleen Gallagher, a spokeswoman for the state’s Catholic bishops, was sceptical. "We recognise that they say they will ban cloning," she said. "But what they’re talking about is banning the cloning of live born babies, but funding the cloning of human embryos that will be destroyed for research."