Acting Governor Defends Stance On Stem Cells; Supports Referendum
Acting Gov. Richard Codey appeared at Princeton University last week to defend a state-sponsored research program on stem cells, saying that such a program would be "full of hope."
As one speaker at the last Friday's day-long event sponsored by the University's Policy Research Institute for the Region, Mr. Codey spoke of the benefits of stem cell research, saying it could lead to advances in diabetes, Alzheimer's, and spinal injury treatment.
"I've been involved in many heath care issues," said Mr. Codey, who has made a name for himself as an advocate of mental health issues. He added that there would be "no guarantees" from state-sponsored research. "But I believe that as a society and a government, we have an obligation to help those among us who are suffering.
"If we have an opportunity to save lives, we as a government, must pursue it, and stem cell research is clearly that opportunity."
The question of state- and federally-sponsored stem cell research was a central issue in the 2004 elections, with many candidates for state and federal office positioning themselves on a platform aligned with either supporters or detractors. President Bush used the issue as the topic of one of his first primetime televised addresses.
After being elevated to the executive office as a result of James McGreevey's resignation, Mr. Codey immediately took on specific health care challenges.
Mr. Codey, who has announced that he will not run for a full gubernatorial term this year, spoke against the belief that stem cell research prevents embryos from reaching their full human potential.
"This is just plain wrong," he said, adding that using embryos to "potentially save lives is the morally correct thing to do."
"This is not a liberal versus conservative issue, this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue," he said, adding that the state Senate has supporters and opponents on both sides of the political aisle. "It wasn't partisan."
Mr. Codey referred to a "similar controversy" surrounding organ donation 50 years ago. "Organ donation, as we all know, saved lives around the globe, and now stem cell research has even greater potential."
A proposal is before the New Jersey legislature that would include a November ballot measure calling for $230 million dollar allocation for stem cell researcha proposal that has caused a lot of friction in the state Assembly, a problem that did not seem to trouble Mr. Codey.
"Politics and dealing with different branches of government is about compromise, so we'll see this played out over the next two-and-a-half months."