Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lawmakers Vote to Ban Destructive Research on Embryos

State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee)

Lawmakers Vote to Ban Destructive Research on Embryos

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bipartisan majority of House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly today to make it illegal to create human embryos for destruction in experiments, and prohibit their use for research purposes.

"We value life here in Oklahoma. And it is for that very reason that I am happy to run this Americans United for Life request bill banning the destructive research on embryonic stem cells," said state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. "While we in no way dispute the fact that the ability to treat or heal suffering persons is a great good, we also recognize that not all methods of achieving a desired good are morally or legally justifiable."

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."

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."

Faught noted that the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity has declared that "the destruction of human embryonic life is unnecessary for medical progress, as alternative methods of obtaining human stem cells and of repairing and regenerating human tissue exist and continue to be developed."

In addition to avoiding moral issues, Faught said the proposed law would prevent the unnecessary diversion of financial resources from effective alternatives.

"The embryonic stem cell fervor has blinded people to what else is available in the medical research field,” Faught said. "The focus as well as the financial resources are being diverted from the very promising field of adult stem cell research, which to date has yielded at least 73 cures or treatments, to the extremely controversial and to date unsuccessful research field of embryonic stem cells, which has generated zero results."

He noted Oklahoma has 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.

"This issue must not be reduced to one of economics – we are proud of our medical research institutions and the medical advances that have been made," Faught said. "This bill does not take away any of those studies currently being done. Not one research dollar that is currently being spent in Oklahoma is affected by this legislation. But the devaluation of one group of human beings for the alleged benefit of others is a price we simply cannot afford to pay."

"In simple terms – this bill prohibits the destruction of a human embryo – a fertilized egg, the very earliest stage of life for the purposes of research."

House Bill 1442 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on an 86-8 vote. It now goes to the state Senate.

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