Dear Friend of Stem Cell Research:
I know you are swamped with politics.
But I need your help on something stem-cell-crucial: to influence a decision which will be made in the next two weeks.
If you follow California’s battle to keep our stem cell research program moving forward, you know the opposition has come at us from every direction.
We have already defeated four attempts at crippling legislation, won vindication in the courts of law--and the research is happening right now.
But now at last, just when the road seems clear, the opposition has succeeded in passing an anti-research law which will do serious harm to California’s stem cell program—and the only way to defeat it is a veto from Governor Schwarzenegger.
The Governor has been a terrific supporter of the program, but he faces huge obstacles of his own, (budget crisis) and will be under tremendous pressure to pass this bill: SB 1565 (Kuehl, Runner).
If you would like to help protect the only major source of embryonic stem cell research in the nation, please help by doing one of the following:
Please write one letter (hard copy or fax) to the following address:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814. (Fax is 916-558-3160.) Or call his office, (916) 445-2841.
Important: on the outside of the envelope, at the bottom left, write: VETO S.B. 1565.
That is pretty much the message inside, too.
We need the Governor to veto a bill which will damage and delay California’s magnificent stem cell research program.
Even one short sentence ("As a supporter of stem cell research, I respectfully request that you veto Senate Bill 1565, which threatens our great stem cell program") would be very helpful.
At the top right hand of the page, be sure to write: RE: Veto SB 1565.
Or the letter could be as longer, something like:
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
Please veto Senate Bill 1565 (Kuehl,Runner) which threatens the success of California’s stem cell program.
As a (state your reason for supporting stem cell research–personally, I always say, as the father of a paralyzed young man) I applaud your long support for stem cell research and Proposition 71, which established America’s greatest regenerative medicine program, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
Now that program is endangered by a widely-misunderstood bill which violates the will of the people of California. SB 1565 would remove the priority for embryonic stem cell research, which was the reason California voted it into law in the first place.
SB 1565 began with noble intentions, to provide low-cost medications or therapies to the uninsured, when those products become available. However, this is already guaranteed. The California program is packed with provisions to provide for the uninsured—even the co-author of the bill now agrees that the CIRM and she are on the same page!
In addition to being useless, SB 1565 contains massive negative consequences:
- California’s legally-established priority for embryonic stem cell research will be removed. Senator George Runner was described by the Los Angeles City Beat as a "virulently anti-embryonic stem cell research Republican", and this is his amendment. Normally, Republicans are against price controls and other infringements on the free market; however, Mr. Runner is ideologically opposed to stem cell research in general, and the California program in particular. This provision alone should disqualify the bill, making it un-constitutional. The California Constitution specifically states that changes to the program will only be allowed if it "furthers the purpose" of the stem cell program– reversing the entire program can hardly be called furthering its purpose!
- The governance structure of the program will be attacked. The 29-member board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) is a group of leaders from patient advocate, medical, educational, and biomedical communities. These are outstanding men and women: Nobel prize laureates, Deans of Colleges, heads of biomedical organizations, and champions from the patients rights field. SB 1565 intends to restructure and revise this dedicated group, potentially replacing it with untrained bureaucrats, even opponents of the program.
- The CIRM’s ability to negotiate a better deal for patients would be denied. Right now, our glorious program has the flexibility to deal directly with corporations, offering them financial incentives to take risks on behalf of patients in need. For example, heart disease affects many millions of Americans; therefore, because the market is huge, the drug industry is eager to get involved. But there are diseases and conditions like spinal muscle atrophy (which kills children in slow agony, usually before the age of two) which do not affect large numbers– therefore the market is small, and corporations have no financial reason to risk the huge sums (often as much as one billion dollars) to develop drugs treating that condition. Right now, the CIRM could say to a corporation, "We’ll let you charge a little more for the heart disease drug, on condition that you spend X amount of money developing a treatment for spinal muscle atrophy." This negotiating power would be stripped away from the CIRM– by Senate Bill 1565.
Senate Bill 1565 serves no useful purpose, removes our Constitutionally-mandated preference for embryonic stemcell research, threatens the successful governance structure of the program, and will interfere with its ability to serve suffering people here and across America.
NOT ONE stem cell research group is in favor of SB 1565. Patients rights and medical groups like the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (containing more than 80 advocacy, patient rights, medical and educational groups, including the American Medical Association) strongly oppose Senate Bill 1565.
Governor Schwarzenegger, please continue your commendable record in support of the Golden State’s stem cell program.
Veto Senate Bill 1565.
P.S. My weblog www.stemcellbattles.com, has moved to a new location—if you would like to receive my columns once a week, please go there, and sign up for the RSS feed.