An Illinois state House committee approved a proposal 10-3 to use taxpayer dollars for embryonic stem cell research. The bill, sponsored by a Republican, would establish the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute and use state money to fund it.
This would not seem remarkable except that the committee chairman, Chicago Democrat, Rep. Dan Burke 1.) blocked opponents by calling for a vote before they could give any testimony against the measure, and 2.) substituted several lawmakers who backed the measure for absent legislators who opposed it.
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, and others were only able to speak to the bill after Mr. Burke called for a vote. Gilligan said such a move is a violation of long-standing protocol of letting those for and against a bill speak before a vote is taken.
This follows Illinois becoming the first state in the country to establish a stem cell research institute without input from the public. In July, Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order to create the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, which he plans to open before the year is over. Taxpayers were told in a press conference in Chicago that state funds would cover the $10 million start up cost for the IRMI, with details about ongoing funding, fiscal accountability, and research methodology to be determined later.
Those who have dismissed Pope Benedict's reference to our building a dictatorship of relativism as a just metaphor may want to take a look at this behavior and reconsider.