Democratic lawmakers have changed the word "embryo" to "material" in a bill for embryonic stem-cell research to secure the votes of Catholic senators who did not want to be viewed as supporting abortion-related legislation.Please pray for Dyson and Maryland's other state senators. There is still time.
"They didn't want to vote for a bill that had the language embryo in it," said Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, Baltimore County Democrat and the bill's sponsor.
The bill, which appears certain of passage as early as today, calls for the state to spend $10 million for research on cells extracted from human embryos to create treatments for degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease.*
Changing the bill's wording angered Republicans and conservative Democrats, who think that a human embryo is a human life and embryonic research is a form of abortion.
"I'm livid over that issue. Call it what it is," said Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., an Anne Arundel County Democrat who is supporting a Republican-led filibuster of the bill.
"We're offended by it," said Nancy Fortier of the Maryland Catholic Conference. "It is a cheap attempt to disguise what they're doing. Everybody knows it's about killing human embryos."
Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus yesterday said the Republican-led filibuster had lost its needed number of Democratic supporters to sustain it.
"It appears that one person we had early on with the filibuster is no longer with us. It appears we fall one short," said Mr. Stoltzfus, Eastern Shore Republican.
Mr. Stoltzfus and other knowledgeable sources said Sen. Roy Dyson, Eastern Shore Democrat, is the swing vote for the filibuster.
Mr. Dyson, a practicing Catholic, likely will vote two or three times for the filibuster but then plans to break off and vote to end debate, sources said.
Mr. Stoltzfus had been confident Friday that the 14 Republicans in the 47-member Senate would be joined by at least five or six Democrats, giving them the 19 votes required to sustain a filibuster.
All six Democrats who supported the filibuster are practicing Catholics. (Source)
*The claim of potential cures is a canard. Embryonic stem cells have been found to cause tumors. Successful stem-cell treatments of Parkinson's patients to date have come from adult stem cells, not embryonic ones.