California church coalition lends support to Proposition 71 for stem cell research

Supporters of Proposition 71 today announced the measure has been endorsed by California Church IMPACT, the legislative advocacy sister organization of the California Council of Churches. Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, which will appear on the November 2004 ballot, would provide funds needed for the development of lifesaving therapies and cures for diseases that could save the lives of millions of California children and adults and reduce health care costs.

"We represent 1.5 million members of the mainstream and progressive Protestant and Orthodox communities of faith," said the Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Church IMPACT. "We are led by strong moral principles in support of health care and thus full access to medical developments. We have followed the hope and promise of stem cell research and we believe Proposition 71 is consistent with our moral principles. We believe California must allow scientists to pursue avenues of research and doctors to offer all people access to the highest standards of treatment that may improve their general well being and restore them to full participation in our society."

The legislative advocacy sister organization of the California Council of Churches joins a growing coalition of grassroots supporters including other religious leaders, Nobel Prize-winning scientists and medical experts, families involved in patient advocacy and efforts to cure diseases, and organizations like the California Medical Association, American Nurses Association of California, American Diabetes Association, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, ALS Therapy Development Foundation, Parkinson's Action Network, and the National Coalition for Cancer Research.

A recent survey conducted by Catholics for a Free Choice revealed some insight into the feelings of religious voters on stem cell research. A large majority of Catholic voters, 72 percent, said they support "allowing scientists to use stem cells obtained from very early human embryos to find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's." The survey had a +/- 2.1 percent margin of error. (http://www.catholicsforchoice.org) It's estimated that 128 million Americans -- including millions of Californians -- suffer from diseases and injuries that could be treated or cured with stem cell therapies. These devastating medical problems affect a child or adult in nearly half of all families. They also result in hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs annually.

Proposition 71 was developed by a coalition of California families and medical experts determined to close the stem cell research funding gap. Currently, there is no state level funding for stem cell research and political roadblocks have severely limited federal funding for some of the most promising types of stem cell research. The initiative steps forward to provide the needing funding for lifesaving stem cell research, requires strict fiscal and public accountability, protects and benefits the state budget, and includes strict ethical deadlines.

California Church IMPACT seeks to be a prophetic witness to the Christian Gospel by empowering and mobilizing people of faith to be effective advocates in the public policy processes of government. Expanding access to health care, civil rights, budget and economic justice, the protection of religious liberty, immigration, and gun violence are some of the contemporary public policy issues about which they feel passionate.

More information on Proposition 71 can be obtained at http://www.curesforcalifornia.com. More information on the California Church IMPACT can be obtained at http://www.churchimpact.org.

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