*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on the measures on the California State Ballot this year. Or alternatively, you can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.
First up on the ballot we have Proposition 14. This proposition, if passed, will authorize $5.5 billion in state funding for continued stem cell research, as well as other medical research that includes construction of research facilities, training, and administrative costs. $1.5 billion will go to research for brain-related diseases. In total it will come to $7.8 billion. By appropriating general funds and expanding programs as needed, it will fund important research, but also have a fiscal impact on the state of $260 million yearly for the next three decades.
A vote for YES will mean you are supporting the funding of research that has the potential to save lives and vastly improve their quality. Some of the diseases that will be researched under this funding include Alzheimer's, Parkinson`s, Cancer, Kidney Disease, Heart Disease. This research will build upon the promising work of 2900 discoveries. And in a country where the lack of accessible and affordable healthcare is already a huge problem, this proposition will increase patient access and affordability. The measure includes strict accountability measures and is projected to stimulate the economy.
A vote for NO would mean that current stem cell research and other research projects would no longer receive funding. The arguments in favor of voting against this proposition are that the state should not be spending more money and cannot afford $7.5 billion for medical research. Some say that the increased expenses could translate into higher taxes or potentially cause financial pressure resulting in layoffs or nurses and first responders. Others are opposed to the bill specifically because it funds stem cell research. Some believe this research is “unethical” because it involves extracting stem cells from, and ultimately destroying, a blastocyst; a human embryo that has not yet implanted itself (in the first 6-8 days after conception). Which if you are unfamiliar, “pregnancy” and a viability has not occurred until implantation (ie it is not even considered a fetus or pregnancy).
This blog would advise you to vote YES on this measure. The arguments against it are, quite frankly, weak. With a GDP of roughly $2.9 trillion, California has the largest economy in the United States. If it were a country, it would be the fifth largest in the entire world. The idea that the State of California cant afford $7.8 billion, or only $260 million a year for the next few decades is just not accurate. Where should we be investing our tax dollars, if not in improvement to health, life expectancy and quality of life? We have such a broken healthcare system in the United States, anything we can do to improve accessibility and affordability for patients dealing with the chronic, and often life-threatening conditions, this proposition will fund is a no-brainer.
The arguments that stem cell research itself is unethical are also not grounded in scientific reality. Even if you are pro-life, that should not make you opposed to this research. The blastocysts used do not come from a viable pregnancy. For a frame of reference, at that stage you would be taking a Plan B pill as opposed to seeking an abortion, because pregnancy has not occurred. There is no fetus. Weighing the value of a couple hundred cells that have not yet even proven to be viable over the huge potential for medical developments is frankly irrational and misguided.
If this proposition does not pass, many critically important and potentially very successful lines of research will have to come to an end. We have already invested money and made a lot of progress; what sense in their is letting this work come to an end before fruition? So, this voter guide says Vote YES on PROP 14!