January 31, 2007
Crist said he is recommending to the state legislature that it spend $20 million to fund a program using adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women.
He indicated he won't back embryonic stem cell research because too many state legislators and members of the public oppose destroying days-old unborn children for their stem cells.
"I know it gives angst for some. I think we can do it in a way that doesn't cause that kind of angst," Crist told the Associated Press at a meeting of newspaper editors.
"I'm pragmatic ... I want to be respectful of concerns that they might have," Crist, a Republican, added. "I also want to make progress."
Crist's comments are important because the legislature will consider two competing bills on the topic.
bill sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, would spend
money on adult stem cell research while the other, backed by Rep.
Franklin Sands, a Democrat, spends $20 million on embryonic stem cell
John Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council, said he supported the governor's position.
"[Governor Crist] has kept the promise he made during his campaign when he stated he would support stem cell research which does not destroy life," Stemberger said.
Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court was asked last month to examine the constitutionality of two competing ballot measures that may appear during the 2008 elections.
One would ask state voters to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research while the other would expressly allow it.
Both sides have been working to collect enough signatures to get their measures on the ballot and they both surpassed the 10 percent mark that then requires the state's high court to evaluate the language
Backers of the pro-life proposal submitted their prohibition measure. It says "No revenue of the state shall be spent on experimentation that involves the destruction of a live human embryo."
Also in December, justices received the text of the funding proposal which would force the state to spend $20 million annually for 10 years on the research, which is nowhere close to helping patients.