Kansas Biotech Bill Heads to Governor, Neither Side Happy

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kansas Biotech Bill Heads to Governor, Neither Side Happy

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 7, 2004

Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Groups on both sides of the embryonic stem-cell research are not completely satisfied by a biotech bill that passed both the Kansas Senate and House Friday.

The measure, part of the Kansas Economic Growth Act, is intended to attract top researchers in the field to the state, by creating new laboratories overseen by an 11-member Kansas Bioscience Authority. The measure passed the senate 38-2, then the Hose sent the measure on to pro-abortion Governor Kathleen Sebelius with a 121-2 vote.

Financially, the proposal would encourage the growth of the biotechnology industry in Kansas, by providing $500 million over 10 years in captured taxes from bioscience firms, and putting that money back into further research and development.

However, biotech firms aren’t pleased that the legislation includes a provision stating that the terms "bioscience," "biotechnology" and "life sciences" shall not be interpreted to include abortions "or the use of cells or tissues derived" from abortions. In addition, the legislation prohibits research that cannot receive federal funding due to federal laws – including the creation of new human embryos for destructive research purposes.

Opponents of the language argue that they believe the ethics question is irrelevant, as they do not believe the embryo is human until implanted in a woman’s womb.

"It’s more a regeneration process," said Mike McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. "As long as it stays in the petri dish, it can’t become a human being. That’s why we’re opposed to the language."

The bill does not, however, include a specific ban on human cloning, including the "somatic nuclear transfer" process used in cloning, whether therapeutic or reproductive. That has pro-life organization Kansans for Life concerned.

"They expected us to be happy with the version that passed," Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, told LifeNews.com after the bill cleared committee in March. "We didn’t get everything we wanted."

"We’re trying to educate as fast as we can on this bill," said Culp.

Kansans for Life has been very vocal about what they expect in the bill, which passed the House 119-6 in an earlier form.

"Kansas should not create some authority through which our tiniest children could be destroyed for patents and profits," Kathleen Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, said. "Unborn, unused embryos are alive, and we oppose experimenting with them."

Culp told LifeNews.com the opposition is different than Kansans for Life usually encounters.

"We are fighting the abortion industry with our other bills," Culp said, referring to a recently failed unborn victims bill and legislation to set regulations on abortion facilities. "We are fighting the big biotech firms on this one."

Currently New Jersey has the most extreme pro-cloning legislation in effect, allowing for the cloning, implantation, and destruction of human life from the embryonic through the newborn stages of prenatal development.

Related Sites:
Kansans for Life – https://www.kfl.org