(3 of 4)
Finances, however, have little to do with Klein's passion for the measure. Like Janet and Jerry Zucker, Katie's parents and the initiative's other chief organizers, Klein is the father of a diabetic, Jordan, 13. In addition, his mother, 84, has Alzheimer's. Distraught at the federal cutoff of stem-cell research, Klein and the Zuckers, who are Los Angeles film producers, were brought together last year by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, one of the nation's most forceful disease-advocacy groups. They hired a clutch of sophisticated lawyers and political consultants to draft the measure and conduct polls. They enlisted allies from Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's and other disease-advocacy groups and spent $2.5 million gathering signatures for the initiative. Ten Nobel prizewinners have endorsed the measure, including David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, and Berg, who created the first recombinant DNA molecule. Behind the scenes, Silicon Valley venture capitalists are backing what is expected to be a $20 million campaign.
It will certainly be a celebrity-studded crusade. Last Saturday, the Zuckers and other Hollywood notables were hosts of a Beverly Hills tribute to Nancy Reagan that raised $2 million for stem-cell research. The former First Lady, who took up the cause after her husband developed Alzheimer's, had earlier written to President Bush in favor of federal funding. But this is the first time Mrs. Reagan has spoken out publicly on the issue. Proponents of the California initiative hope that advocacy by an icon of the conservative movement will help neutralize resistance to the November bond measure.
Opponents have barely begun to organize. "We're not Hollywood producers," says Richard Doerflinger, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We don't have the money they do." Nonetheless, he says, pro-life groups will explain to voters that embryonic stem-cell cloning is "unpromising for cures" and offers "a gateway to all kinds of possible genetic engineering in humans." Although the California measure would initially limit research to embryos less than 12 days old, Doerflinger contends it could lead to "the exploitation of women as 'fetus farms.'" Such arguments have persuaded eight states, including Iowa, Michigan and Kansas, to restrict therapeutic-cloning research. More dramatically, the U.S. House passed legislation last year that would make cloning human cells a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill stalled in the Senate, in part because of opposition from Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who is antiabortion yet favors stem-cell research.