|05-19-2005, 07:58 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2001
ESC research banned in LA
House OKs ban on stem-cell research
Rival bill excepted therapeutic cloning
Thursday, May 19, 2005
By Laura Maggi
BATON ROUGE -- Legislation to ban embryonic stem-cell research in Louisiana was approved by the House on Wednesday, with bill supporters saying the process amounts to the destruction of human life. Opponents of the measure countered that a ban will cut off research of possible cures for many diseases.
This type of stem-cell research is not currently going on in Louisiana, but scientists at Tulane University and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge testified last week that approving legislation to allow it to go forward would help the state attract new biotechnology companies.
The House considered two bills dealing with the issue, both of which would ban the use of cloning technology to create a human being. Lawmakers eventually embraced House Bill 492 by Rep. Dan "Blade" Morrish, D-Jennings, which also includes the research ban.
After that legislation passed by a 75-23 vote, the House rejected a plea by Rep. Eric LaFleur, D-Villa Platte, for the body to also pass House Bill 736, which would have banned reproductive cloning but allowed the type of research sometimes called therapeutic cloning. LaFleur's bill failed by a 54-45 vote.
"I don't want to send both bills upstairs," said Morrish, referring to Gov. Kathleen Blanco's office on the fourth floor of the Capitol building. If the two bills had passed both chambers of the Legislature, it would have been up to Blanco to decide which one to sign.
The technique in question involves transferring the nucleus from an adult cell, such as a skin cell, into a woman's egg from which the DNA has been removed. The combination would then be stimulated so it would begin to divide. Researchers could then tease out some of these stem cells, which they say could be used to find cures for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's.
"I don't want to cut back on any research that would help people have a better life," said Rep. Billy Montgomery, D-Haughton.
But critics, including abortion opponents and religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, have said the process destroys a human embryo and therefore destroys life.
"Everything comes down to the issue of life," said Rep. Gary Beard, R-Baton Rouge.
The debate about whether this kind of stem cell research should be approved in Louisiana has been heated during the past couple years, and lawmakers on either side have been unable to get the votes to send legislation to the governor.
The issue also has been stalemated on the federal level, although legislation has been filed in Congress on both sides. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is one of the sponsors of a bill to ban all types of human cloning.
The national policy on cloning has been set by President Bush, who declared federal dollars could not be used for research on human embryos destroyed after Aug. 9, 2001.
Some states have since stepped into the policy vacuum, and a handful banned all forms of cloning, including embryonic stem cell research. But a couple have recently been heading in the other direction, highlighted by California voters' fall approval of a ballot measure to spend as much as $3 billion over 10 years on the research.
. . . . . . .
"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles"....C. Reeve 1998