I see in today's New York Times that a state judge ruled yesterday that two lawsuits disputing the constitutionality of California's fledgling stem cell research agency, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, have no merit. Brought by attorneys with ties to anti-abortion groups, the suits claimed that because Prop 71, the 2004 ballot initiative funding the agency, authorized money for both stem cell and other types of medical research, it violated a state law prohibiting a ballot measure from proposing more than one issue. Judge Bonnie Lewman Sabraw of the Alameda County Superior Court basically dismissed these claims as the bologna that they reek of.
Good. I'm not denying that there are delicate ethical concerns that need to be addressed in regards to stem cell research. And I keep hoping the federal government will get fully into the game in order to help keep an eye on just such issues. But on the whole, the potential benefits of this field appear to outweigh the costs. And while I understand social conservatives' moral objections to stem cell research, I'm disinclined to take them seriously until I see pro-life picketers also take on the IVF industry, which is busy creating scads of excess embryos that will never, ever see the inside of a warm womb and will ultimately be tossed out with the trash.
Sadly, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine has to wait until the appeals process has been exhausted until it can start selling securities to raise grant money. (Until then, it's using loans from philanthropic groups.) Here's hoping the higher courts' jurists have noses as well-refined as Judge Sabraw's.