Before Tina Stevens and Stuart Newman wrote Biotech Juggernaut, Newman helped Stevens fight legal action from an unexpectedly powerful adversary. Two scientists and the financer-author of Proposition 71, a 2004 California state initiative to fund stem cell medicine and promising imminent cures, wanted to prevent Stevens expressing her “false and misleading” views about the bill. Advocates said Proposition 71 would lead to miracle treatments for serious, debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. Using DNA from a patient and an egg donated by a healthy woman, researchers would produce embryonic stem cells that could then specialise and replace virtually any cell in the patient’s body.
But, Stevens, a bioethicist and historian, felt uneasy about the scientific and ethical claims of the proposition. She was part of a progressive wing of activists who were concerned about the serious risks posed to women who donated eggs for this research, as well as the troubling ethical implications of some of the techniques used. The type of stem cell research proposed in the proposition constituted a form of human cloning – somatic... see more