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Proposition 14: Vote NO

California’s Proposition 14 is a $5.5 billion bond measure that will appear before California voters in November. Its goal is to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created by 2004’s Proposition 71. In a time where the importance of public health has never been clearer, Proposition 14 deserves vehement opposition from anyone who cares about human life, research ethics, and responsible public spending.

In the early 2000’s, embryonic stem cell research was viewed as an untapped treasure trove for medical research. Because the first cells of the human organism’s development—stem cells—will duplicate into every part of the body, researchers hypothesized that such cells could be used to quickly grow different kinds of human tissue to treat various devastating illnesses.

Human cloning went hand-in-hand with stem cells. With stem cells derived from a patient’s clone, doctors could obtain tissues for treatment that the patient’s body would not reject as a foreign entity.

This was the rosy outlook of the early 2000’s, when many in the scientific community bewailed George W. Bush’s 2001 restrictions on federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research. In 2004, California aggressively decided to stand in the gap and fund this research with a $3 billion bond measure, Proposition 71.

With all of this promise, why shouldn’t the state continue funding such important-sounding research? Here’s why:

  1. Cheapening human life: Proposition 14 funds stem cell research that requires the creation (via cloning) and destruction of human embryos. These are human organisms with entirely unique sets of DNA never before seen in human history, who are not burdens on any existing mother’s autonomy. To create human life via cloning, solely to use that living being’s cells for research, instrumentalizes and devalues human life.

    Furthermore, the use of such embryos is unnecessary. Adult stem cells (i.e., stem cells derived from sources other than embryos and which do not result in the destruction of a human organism) can now be brought to the same pluripotent state of embryonic stem cells, able to replicate and divide into almost any kind of human tissue. These are called Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, and they are the functional equivalent of embryonic stem cells, only they are cheaper and simpler to procure.

    The obsessive focus on stem cells derived from cloned-and-destroyed human embryos has always hindered unified political support for such research. It turns the question of stem cell research into another front of our political and cultural fight over legalized abortion, when this is unnecessary.

  2. Spending responsibility: Embryonic stem cell proponents argued that the moral problems with embryo research were insignificant compared to the enormous potential for developing new cures and treatments. They claimed that the medical and financial yield in cures and treatments would far exceed the cost of a $3 billion bond investment. Those benefits have not materialized, to the embarrassment of Proposition 14’s supporters.

    This is what the San Francisco Chronicle found when it reported on the question in 2018: “Not a single federally approved therapy has resulted from CIRM-funded science. The predicted financial windfall has not materialized. The bulk of CIRM grants have gone to basic research, training programs and building new laboratories, not to clinical trials testing the kinds of potential cures and therapies the billions of dollars were supposed to deliver.”

    Why was it such a failure? CIRM backed the wrong horse: embryonic stem cell research. It turns out, when cells can turn into any part of the human organism, they will do so, uncontrollably. Embryonic stem cells are far more likely to cause cancerous tumors than to be suitable material for treatments.

    By contrast, adult stem cells have swiftly become the gold standard for stem cell research, with tens of thousands receiving adult stem cell treatments each year and over 3,500 ongoing or completed clinical trials. Because of their more limited capacity for cell division, adult stem cells are more controllable and, therefore, useful. Even CIRM has been forced to conclude this by diverting more of its money to adult stem cell research.

In a world struggling through the Coronavirus pandemic, CIRM is clearly no longer deserving of public funding, unless it fundamentally shifts its focus away from all research that involves the creation and destruction of embryos, and exclusively turns its attention to adult stem cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Anything else would be an immoral waste of money and human life. For all these reasons, Right to Life exhorts our supporters to vote NO on Proposition 14.

*Note: Right to Life of Central California is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that does not take positions on political candidates or parties. We legally may and do engage in limited advocacy on legislative proposals, including California ballot initiatives.*

January 24, 2022

Temporary Suspension of Sidewalk Ministry

Right to Life regrets to inform our supporters that, due to issues relating to safety, we are temporarily suspending our sidewalk advocacy ministry. This is a temporary suspension that will be lifted after certain changes are put in place over the next several weeks. This change took place after the printing and distribution of our upcoming newsletter had already begun, and we apologize for the confusion this may cause. For our volunteers who are interested, you may email or call our office at 229-2229. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we will let our supporters know as soon as the ministry is once again operational.

January 24, 2022

The Abortion Distortion

The Supreme Court’s most recent foray into abortion jurisprudence highlights what conservative critics call the “abortion distortion.” When the Court reviews abortion cases, left-leaning and moderate Justices throw out otherwise normal legal and judicial standards for the sake of preserving the Court-created structure of abortion rights at any cost. Nowhere is this funhouse mirror-like distortion more clearly seen than in Monday’s June Medical Services v. Russo decision.

In this case, the Court held that the state of Louisiana could not impose certain health and safety restrictions on abortion clinics—the same requirements applicable to ambulatory surgical centers. In his controlling plurality opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer held that these restrictions would lead to clinics closing, and that the burden on a woman’s liberty interest in abortion “outweighed” the health benefits the state sought, rendering the law unconstitutional.

This case and its outcome are almost identical to Breyer’s 2016 decision Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. While Chief Justice John Roberts dissented from that 5-3 ruling, he concurred with the four liberal Justices to give them the victory in June Medical, thereby opposing his own former position.

We can see the abortion distortion in June Medical in several ways, starting with how courts review healthcare laws. In our constitutional system, public health regulation has always been a core function of state governments. As a result, courts review state healthcare laws—even when they are occasionally unhelpful or potentially harmful—with a broadly permissive level of discretion, and err on the side of letting the regulation stand.

Yet when it comes to abortion, the posture is completely different. Suddenly, this group of nine lawyers—not doctors or ethicists or elected legislators—adopts the nitpicking attitude of a medical-regulatory review board, critically scrutinizing and semi-metaphysically weighing the health benefits of regulation against the burden on obtaining abortions.

Almost no other medical field or private industry can avoid duly-passed safety laws simply because they allegedly cannot live up to them. The Supreme Court did not even allow California churches—which, unlike abortion clinics, can actually cite a passage of the Constitution’s text that explicitly protects their right to function without undue infringement—to prevail in their challenge to certain Newsom-mandated COVID-19 restrictions several weeks ago.

Yet in this case, the Supreme Court of the United States itself is willing to overturn a state law so some abortion doctors can put their businesses ahead of patient safety. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s elected lawmakers, including the Democratic legislator who wrote the bill and the Democratic governor who signed it, have their work undone by unelected judges.

The distortion also applies to Justice Breyer. Throughout his time on the Court, Stephen Breyer has taken a broadly liberal posture favoring government regulation of industry and healthcare. And yet here, he seeks to exclude abortion practitioners from such minimal requirements as having admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius. Abortion is apparently the only industry that Stephen Breyer believes does not deserve vigorous health and safety oversight.

John Roberts is perhaps the most surprising victim of abortion distortion with his newfound exaltation of stare decisis, the notion that the Supreme Court should not overturn its prior precedents without sufficient reason. The Chief has rarely shown concern for overturning past decisions he thought were wrong. On public sector unions, campaign finance law, and other issues with huge real-world ramifications, Roberts repeatedly joined with narrow majorities to overturn everything from 7-year-old decisions to entrenched, decades-long precedents.

Yet somehow, for the 4-year-old Hellerstedt ruling, Roberts declared that stare decisis compelled him to uphold that decision, from which he himself dissented and with which he still disagrees. None of the usual reasons for stare decisis—longstanding precedent, stability in the law, reliance, predictability—clearly apply to a decision with such a short shelf life, supported by such a narrow 5-3 majority.

Roberts is clearly playing a political game. He may be reacting to mainstream voices on the left (like Senators Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar) who are open to adding seats, or “packing,” the Supreme Court, as they perceive it shifting right under President Trump. Roberts’ recent pushback against Trump-favored positions indicates this desire to protect the perceived “impartiality” and “respectability” of the Court against liberal critics—conservative critics be damned.

But playing politics is not his job. His job is to follow the rule of law, “to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.” Those are not my words—they are Justice Roberts’ own words from his 2005 confirmation hearings. He would do well to follow them, and to put down his funhouse mirror.

January 24, 2022

Outreach Center

Want to make a Difference?

Right to Life of Central California’s “Outreach Center” is  located immediately next door to Planned Parenthood’s main Fresno abortion clinic. Our outreach center is the base of operations for our incredible sidewalk advocacy work, as well as the headquarters for our volunteer efforts and 40 Days for Life campaigns.

Women have chosen life and babies have been saved, as a result of our outreach team sharing pro-life options. Lean more and read their stories. Click below to get involved in Making a Difference for Life!

The 300 CLUB

Less than a dollar a day to fight for LIFE!

Less than a dollar a day to fight for LIFE! The 300 Club is a grassroots effort of Central California residents to FIGHT FOR LIFE! It’s a simple and effective way to give direct support to our mission. 300 Club Members commit to giving less than a dollar a day ($300 a year).

Rachel's Vineyard

Wounded by Abortion?

Rachel’s Vineyard conducts confidential weekend retreats to help
rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats
offer a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment
where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal
and healing.

www.RachelsVineyard.orgLearn More

Right to Life Radio

“Right to Life Radio” is a weekly pro-life news program, hosted by RLCC executive director John Gerardi. It airs 9-10 AM every Saturday morning on Powertalk 96.7 in Fresno. Check it out!

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