Wednesday, February 23, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY (February 22, 2011) – Legislation that would make it illegal to create human embryos for experiments was approved by a House committee today.
"This legislation simply makes it illegal to create unborn children with the intent of killing them for research purposes," said state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. "Oklahomans do not support treating unborn babies as ‘spare parts.’"
House Bill 1442, by Faught, creates the "Destructive Human Embryo Research Act." The proposed law would make it illegal to "intentionally or knowingly conduct destructive research on a human embryo" or to "buy, sell, receive, or otherwise transfer a human embryo with the knowledge that such embryo shall be subjected to destructive research."
Violations would result in misdemeanor charges.
The legislation states that the destruction of human embryos to obtain embryonic stem cells "raises grave moral, ethical, scientific, and medical issues that must be addressed," and that the moral justification for medical or scientific research "cannot be based upon the dehumanizing and utilitarian premise that the end justifies any means."
In spite of millions spent, Faught noted that embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single treatment and typically generates cancer tumors, not cures.
In fact, Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Oklahoma Bioethics Center at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa, told the Tulsa World (April 24, 2009 edition) that "embryonic stem cell research so far and in the future is a dead end. There are no foreseeable cures in the next decade for certain."
In addition, embryonic stem cell research also has a supply problem.
A report by the RAND Corporation found that only 2.8 percent of so-called "leftover" embryos at fertility clinics have been specifically designated for research while 88.2 percent continue to be held for family planning. (link)
The RAND report also found that 11,000 embryos would generate just 275 new embryonic stem cell lines.
Locally, KOTV in Tulsa reported in 2009 that the Integris Fertility Clinic in Oklahoma City had 230 sets of embryos stored for later use, 20 sets for embryo adoption, and just two sets designated for research. The clinic indicated that each "set" can contain anywhere from two to 11 embryos each.
"It is clear that the only viable way to conduct embryonic stem cell research is to create thousands of new embryos specifically to harvest them for stem cells," Faught said. "Even if there were no moral problems, there simply are not enough ‘discard’ embryos at fertility clinics."
Faught said he does support adult stem cell research, which is already helping patients overcome more than 70 diseases and disorders and does not require embryo destruction.
"Why should we condone the killing of thousands or millions of unborn children when there are far better alternatives, and at a time when advances in adult stem cell research are allowing ‘reprogramming’ of cells to duplicate embryonic cells?" Faught said. "Oklahoma can be pro-life, pro-research and pro-cure without endorsing embryo destruction."
He noted Oklahoma has already dedicated millions to adult stem cell research. In 2009, the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust committed $500,000 for a year-long planning phase for adult stem cell research funding, followed by $1 million per year funding for the following five-year implementation phase, for a total of $5.5 million.
House Bill 1442 passed the House Public Health Committee today. It now proceeds to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
NOTE: For accompanying video, go to this link.