Legislative Alert- Embryonic Stem Cell Reseacrh and Human Cloning
AUTHOR: Melanie Elsey
November 14 2005
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To all: This week two bills regarding human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are likely to receive committee and floor action. The purpose of this email is to outline the basic provisions and explain the differences between the two. It's important to also put any legislation regarding biomedical research in the context of the passage of Issue 1. The Ohio Constitution now includes language outlining proper public purposes for state funding to include "without limitation" research and development and commercialization of products. If the General Assembly approves changes to state law, which conflict with the Ohio Constitution it will open the door to litigation. The courts will be compelled to rule in favor of the constitutional provisions. Having said this, there still needs to be public input on these historic bills. Both bills are expected to receive committee action tomorrow, Tuesday 11/15/05 Neither version has current language available on the state's website yet. Sub. HB 355 (House Judiciary Committee) LSC 126 1241-5 1. Would prohibit state funds for embryonic stem cell research [ESCR] from tissues derived from destroying human embryos (or from induced abortions - this provision regarding abortion is already in state law). 2. Would allow state funds for ESCR using embryonic cells listed in the federal registry for National Institute of Health 3. Would prohibit cloning of human embryos (the activity, as well as state funding) Sub. SB 210 (Senate Finance Committee) LSC 126 1526-1 1. Would prohibit state funds for ESCR, but would allow funding for human embryonic stem cells listed in the federal registry for the NIH. 2. Would prohibit state funding for human cloning, based on a Presidential memorandum issued on March 4, 1997 by President Clinton. It would not prohibit the activity of human cloning. Concerns: For the first time in state law, both bills provide an express intent to encourage research on human embryonic stem cells (even though it is limited to the federal registry). This is equivalent to allowing commercial profit from research on the most vulnerable -- human embryos. It also opens a portal to expanded use once the federal policy changes. The NIH criteria can be changed with a new President's policies or through Congressional action (HR 810 is close to passage). NO other state has their statutes explicitly tied to the federal registry regarding ESCR. SB 210 is even less restrictive, because it would encourage human cloning research with private funds. Most importantly, this legislation is moving too quickly. There is not a reasonable timetable to provide thorough public testimony. The human cloning provision in HB355 came from HB179, which received hearings earlier this year. But the stem cell research component was introduced at the end of September and came specifically from negotiations with Ohio Right to Life as a trade off to stand down on Issue 1. ACTION: 1. Please consider contacting House Speaker Jon Husted (614-644-6008) and Senate President Bill Harris (614-466-8086) and respectfully request that more time be provided to consider these important policies. 2. Contact your own legislators to express your opinions on this legislation as well as encourage them to communicate with House and Senate leadership to provide more time.