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Clone and Kill: New Jersey’s Stem Cell Research Law

This a Sunday, a new state law goes into effect that its opponents call “Clone and Kill.” The formal title of the law is “An Act concerning human stem cell research and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.” The innocuous title belies its controversial content.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon,
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This a Sunday, a new state law goes into effect that its opponents call “Clone and Kill.”

The formal title of the law is “An Act concerning human stem cell research and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.” The innocuous title belies its controversial content:

  • A specific provision to allow “somatic cell nuclear transportation” -- in English, human cloning.
  • Provisions to use “remaining” embryos, leftover from artificial fertilization, as a source for stem cells for research (requiring the killing of the embryo).
  • “Reasonable payment” for processing the embryos (while attempting to ban the outright sale of embryos -- a matter of semantics).

New Jersey is only the second state in the union to pass such a law. California was the first, last year. The law's preamble, however, shows why we can expect other states to follow suit: “The biomedical industry is a critical and growing component of New Jersey 's economy, and would be significantly diminished by limitations imposed on stem cell research.”

In other words, let's try to prop up New Jersey 's sagging economy by allowing the baby-harvesters to move in and do things here that they can't do in 48 other states.

It's all about money.

The Stealth Approach

McGreevy and the Democrats in the state legislature used a stealth approach to translate this bill into law.

“They did all the work on it between Christmas and Thanksgiving, when they knew most people would be preoccupied with the holidays,” said Joe Murray, with the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

Worse, they somehow managed to engineer a press blackout. Although the governor's own press release called the bill “groundbreaking” and “a hope for miracles [ sic -- or is it sick?] just around the corner,” New Jersey 's five major newspapers “kept it in the dark,” Murray said. During the year leading up to the bill's enactment, only four news articles and one letter to the editor addressed the subject, according to Family Policy Council President Len Deo. “Where has it been in the papers, or on the evening news?” he said.

Thanks to the distraction of the holidays and the virtual news blackout, most Jersey residents “just weren't paying attention,” said Ian Clark, a conservative Republican activist in central Jersey. “This is what happens when most people get their news filtered through their unions and the liberal news media.”

Short Shrift for the Clergy

Governor McGreevy, whose popularity rating has held at a steady 30 percent since shortly after his election in 2000, frequently reminds New Jersey voters that he is a Catholic. When he endorsed Vermont Governor Howard Dean (best known for his support for his state's homosexual “civil unions”) for the Democratic presidential nomination recently, McGreevy said the thing he most admires about Dean is his strong support for “family values.” One wonders what kind of family these liberal dodos are talking about.

“Vote for me. I'm Catholic” is McGreevy's message to New Jersey 's many Catholic voters. But how Catholic is he?

The bishop of McGreevy's home diocese, Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen, sent the governor a letter pleading with him not to sign the Clone and Kill bill. While citing the known medical benefits of adult stem cell research, the bishop wrote, “It is not too late for our governor to withhold his signature. The future of life as we know it is in his hands.”

But it was too late. Not only did McGreevy sign the bill into law, he also never bothered to give the bishop the courtesy of a reply.

“It's a sad day for New Jersey ,” said Joanne Ward, of the bishop's office. “We were fighting Christopher Reeve, after all. When he gets involved, it becomes so emotional, we just can't get people to understand.”

Bishop Bootkoski wasn't the only clergyman snubbed by Mr. Family Values. Priests for Life's Father Peter West also sent a message to the governor, but received no reply. The interdenominational Paterson Pastors' Workshop, representing 50 local congregations in Passaic County , fared no better.

Nor did this reporter, after contacting the governor's press office several times.

What's Next?

McGreevy's liberal dump truck isn't empty yet.

On January 12, 2004, he signed another anti-family values bill, this one compelling businesses in New Jersey to provide family medical benefits to homosexuals and others in “domestic partnership,” an arrangement also known as “shacking up.”

“It's going to be a bad year,” Ian Clark said. “These are only the first couple of items on the liberal dream list. New Jersey is now a one-party state. [The Democrats won control of both houses of the legislature last year] They're just getting going. After the last election, nothing's going to stop them.”

Christians in New Jersey may be particularly concerned about the prospects of their state's following Vermont into the civil unions wilderness, or even creating “gay marriage.” Last year a judge dismissed a suit by seven homosexual couples demanding that the state recognize them as “married.” Then, with the elections yet to be held, McGreevy intervened, directing his attorney general to plead with the court that such a step as establishing homosexual marriage ought to be taken only by the legislature, not imposed on New Jersey by a judge.

Translation: If that judge had socked New Jersey with gay marriage in September, the voters would have socked the Democratic Party in November.

Now McGreevy's party is out of the voters' reach, and we'll see what Jimmy Catholic does to the definition of marriage in New Jersey.

If this doesn't motivate Christians in other states to vote against Democrat candidates, what will?

“Watch New Jersey, America,” Joe Murray said.

“The state of New Jersey has fallen into the clutches of a very small, well-funded, well-organized minority that lobbies very well and has the news media in its pocket,” he said. “Just watch.”

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at

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