Scott's desire for embryonic stem cell ban hasn't proceeded
Updated: Friday, September 9th, 2011 | By Amy Sherman
In campaign materials in 2010, Rick Scott provided a side-by-side comparison to his Republican primary opponent Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
The document covered several issues including taxes, health care and illegal immigration and ended with stances on embryonic stem cell research. Scott wrote that he "will place a permanent ban on embryonic stem cell research."
Scott reiterated his desire for such a ban in a July 4, 2010, article in the Palm Beach Post:
"The most important thing is that I've always been a pro-life individual. That's how I think about things," he said. "And my belief that we need a permanent ban on embryonic stem cell research and things like that. Those are the things that are really important in this state."
We missed this promise when we first published our Scott-O-Meter to track Scott's campaign promises. But we have since added his promise to ban embryonic stem cell research.
PolitiFact has also tracked a promise by President Barack Obama related to stem cell research. Obama received a Promise Kept in March 2009 after he signed an executive order reversing two of President George W. Bush's policies on stem cells. PolitiFact wrote that Obama's order ended Bush's restrictions that allowed research only on lines that existed at the time of his order.
PolitiFact stated: "This does not mean that federal funds may now go to unlimited research on human embryos. Federal law still bans federal funding for research in which scientists destroy human embryos. Under Obama's order, scientists may now study stem cell lines created by others, but they still may not create their own lines."
PolitiFact also explained that "scientists want to use the cells to develop cures for conditions like Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. The cells are derived from human embryos, which are destroyed when the cells are extracted. Critics equate that destruction with abortion. The embryos typically come from private fertility clinics, where they would likely have been destroyed anyway." Here's a good primer from the University of Kansas on Stem Cell 101 for more information.
In 2010, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed house budget chief State. Rep. David Rivera's budget language to ban state money for embryonic stem cell research. Rivera, a Miami Republican, is now a member of Congress.
Since Scott took office in January 2011, we could not find any action he had taken related to banning embryonic stem cell research. We contacted his press office to ask if he had taken any steps toward a ban and to clarify who he wants to ban doing such research but didn't get a response. We did find a reference to Scott and stem cells since he took office:
In June, Jackson Laboratory, a company based in Maine and California, announced it would withdraw a request for $100 million in state funding related to a proposed biomedical campus in Sarasota County, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. There had been speculation that Scott's opposition to embryonic stem cell research influenced his administration's lack of interest in the project and Jackson Lab wouldn't rule out such research, the newspaper reported.
We contacted spokespersons for the House and Senate to ask if they were aware of any such bills to ban embryonic stem cell research in 2011 and none could find any.
If Scott intends the ban to apply to universities receiving state funds for such research it may not mean much. We checked in with three major universities and none use public dollars for embryonic stem cell research.
At the University of Miami, the only embryonic stem cell research is privately funded, spokeswoman Lisa Worley said. The University of Florida and University of South Florida don't conduct research on embryonic stem cells.
It's possible that legislators will propose bills to ban embryonic stem cell research in 2012 and such a bill could get Scott's blessing. But for now we rate this Promise Stalled.
Gov. Rick Scott campaign, Comparison of Rick Scott and Bill McCollum, 2010 campaign
Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Jackson Laboratory won't be building facility in Sarasota County," June 4,2011
PolitiFact, "Obama signs executive order on stem cells," March 9, 2009
Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Charlie Crist vetoes $371m. Dade, David Rivera, whacked,"May 28, 2011
Palm Beach Post, "Preemie birth case ignites GOP race for governor," July 4, 2010
University of Kansas, Stem Cell 101, Accessed Sept. 9, 2011
Interview, Mark Hollis, spokesman Democratic office House of Representatives, Aug. 25, 2011
Interview, Michelle DeMarco, spokeswoman Florida Democratic Senate Office Aug. 25, 2011
Interview, Brandi Young, legislative analyst Senate Majority Office, Aug. 25, 2011
Interview, Lisa Worley, spokeswoman for University of Miami, Aug. 18, 2011
Interview, Anne DeLotto Baier, spokeswoman for University of South Florida, Aug. 18, 2011
Interview, Janine Sikes, spokesperson for University of Florida, Aug. 18, 2011
Interview, Leslie Veiga, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. David Rivera, Aug. 25, 2011
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