MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker refuses to admit he would support a ban on embryonic stem cell research if elected governor, but Walker told supporters in 2005 he would have signed a bill Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed at the time that was a direct threat to embryonic stem cell research. Walker told his supporters of the ban in the November 10, 2005 “Walker Weekly,” an electronic newsletter during his failed previous bid for governor.
“Scott Walker would ban embryonic stem cell research and that’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Not only is Scott Walker, endorsed by the extremists who required opposition to embryonic stem cell research, but also Walker said it in 2005.”
Walker’s campaign quote, from the “Walker Weekly” published days after Gov. Doyle’s veto, read:
“In just the last 10 days Jim Doyle has vetoed or hinted at vetoing a ban on all human cloning, requiring true parental notification for a minor having an abortion, and requiring that mothers are aware of fetal pain with an abortion at 20 weeks or beyond. There is no reason to discuss these issues: Governor Walker would sign these bills in a heartbeat.” [Source: “The Walker Weekly,” 11/10/05]
The bill Walker would have signed was 2005 Assembly Bill 499, which experts said would severely hamper stem cell research in Wisconsin. Amendments which would have protected embryonic stem cell research from potential threats were voted down in both then-Republican-controlled chambers of the state legislature. [2005 AA1- & SA1-AB499]
Doyle vetoed the threat to embryonic stem cell research on November 3, 2005, at an event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center in which he was joined by James Thomson, the pioneer of embryonic stem cell research. “[Thomson] said the perception that Wisconsin is anti-science is a serious concern to young researchers who are considering where to set up shop.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/4/05]
“Scott Walker opposes the promise of embryonic stem cell research,” said Ross. “Scott Walker is not only a threat to the incalculable promise of stem cell research to rid us of disease and treat injuries, but also he is threat to the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars economic development embryonic stem cell research represents for people in every corner of Wisconsin.”
The governor’s office reports Wisconsin is home to 600 bioscience companies, 11 stem cell companies and 34,000 jobs through bioscience.