Political and financial reality have begun to catch up with supporters of stem-cell research in California.
Wealthy venture capitalists, movie stars, and biotech firms poured $27 million into the campaign for Proposition 71, the now famous stem-cell initiative. The slick advertising blitz promised myriad miracle cures and enormous financial returns from new scientific patents. Opponents were shouted down as bible thumping, card-carrying members of medieval red counties.
In fact, the diverse groups opposed to 71 fought nobly, but were outspent by a margin of 27-1. They simply weren't able to get air time for their concerns--and the media wasn't about to equalize the playing field. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed 71 "worth the gamble," gleefully embracing a proposition that their editorial page acknowledged was "intended to both insult and subvert President Bush's decision" to restrict embryonic stem-cell research.
Reasoned deliberation was left behind in the midst of California's new gold rush for stem-cell research money. Given the worst of the initiative process and lapdog liberal journalism, there was no substantive policy debate on Prop. 71 in California. Few individuals, least of all the members of the starry-eyed media, read the fine print.
Although a majority of Californians may be for embryonic stem-cell research, a solid majority are against cloning. Few people understand that Prop. 71 allows cloning--many embryos are needed for research, and deceptive rhetoric obscured the fact that the measure will likely use public money to harvest cloned embryos for their stem-cells.
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