Raise Your Hand For Kids initiative gains foe in Wash U over stem cell research

Supporters of a Missouri constitutional amendment that aims to bring in $305 million a year for young children by increasing the state’s tobacco tax said they have gained an unexpected opponent: Washington University.

In early February, Washington University began actively lobbying against the Raise Your Hands for Kids initiative, which the school says puts federally mandated protections to conduct embryonic stem-cell research in Missouri at grave risk due to an addition to the measure that includes a ban on using any of the tobacco-tax money on abortion or stem-cell research.

Proponents argue the tax increase would yield more than $28 million statewide a year for screenings, preventive health care and other supports to help new mothers and young children and say any charges against the measure equate with paranoia.

Linda Rallo, executive director of Raise Your Hands for Kids, said adding restrictions on stem-cell research and abortion was a way to stave off false claims about the proposed tax, particularly given the legislative controversy involving Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue donation.

Washington U. isn’t the only large health-related organization to balk. Missouri Cures, a bioscience advocacy group with significant ties to WU, is also firmly against it.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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