South Dakota Voters Could Face Ballot Prop for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 28, 2009

Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — When voters in South Dakota head to the polls next November, they could face a statewide ballot measure that would force taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research. That is the science that has yet to provide any cures for patients and has had problems in animal studies.

Former state Treasurer David Volk of Sioux Falls, who is a cancer survivor, says he doesn’t like the current state restrictions against funding the controversial research.

He says he wants the regulations thrown out so taxpayer dollars can flow to embryonic stem cell research involving cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases — even though the use of adult stem cells is already helping patients now.

Volk has created a new group called South Dakotans for Lifesaving Cures that will file papers with the Secretary of State for the ballot measure. It will need to obtain 6,776 valid signatures by April 6 to get the measure on the November 2010 ballot.

Rep. Roger Hunt of Brandon, who is pro-life, told the Associated Press he expects “considerable opposition” from the majority of South Dakota residents who are pro-life. That is because embryonic stem cells can only be obtained for research by destroying a unique human being days after conception.

While embryonic stem cell research has never helped a single patient, and caused tumors and sparked immune system rejection issues when used in animals, alternatives are faring well.

A new process called direct reprogramming has been able to convert adult stem cells into an embryonic-like state where they are already showing promising results. Those iPS cells, combined with adult stem cells, are the kind of ethical stem cell research pro-life advocates favor and they are showing the best hope for patients.

The ballot measure would again put pro-life issues before voters a third time after pro-life advocates tried twice to get state residents to ban most abortions.

South Dakota voters defeated Initiated Measure 11 by a 55-45 percentage point margin.

The margin was similar to the vote last time around despite the attempt to appear to the majority of voters who said in 2006 that they would support a ban with the additional exceptions.

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