Judge's ruling intensifies raging stem cell debate

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(09/25/07) TRENTON ? Not surprisingly, Monday?s decision by a judge to allow a stem cell research question on November?s ballot has stirred up strong feelings on both sides of the controversy.

Superior Court Judge Neil H. Shuster rejected a bid by abortion opponents to halt New Jersey's plans to ask voters whether the state should borrow $450 million to fund stem cell research for 10 years. Shuster found the Nov. 6 ballot question was valid, clearing the way for the referendum that would approve public spending on federally restricted embryonic stem cell research and work on adult stem cells. The lawsuit, filed last week by the Legal Center for Defense of Life on behalf of the New Jersey Right to Life, argued the ballot question approved by legislators and Gov. Jon S. Corzine in July was misleading. It alleged the question failed to explain borrowing could fund research on the type of cloning that produced Dolly the sheep. It also claimed the question improperly failed to note the debt could be repaid with property taxes and that the research would promote egg extractions from women. But Shuster sided with the state Attorney General's office, which argued the lawsuit failed to establish any criteria for halting the referendum.

Now, New Jersey residents are speaking their minds on the issue. Supporters say the move will go a long way in helping find cures for various ailments.

However, pro-life activists are standing firm in their opposition. They believe the research will permit human cloning and boost property taxes in the state. Opponents of stem cell research can still appeal the judge?s ruling.

Associated Press wire reports contributed to this story.


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