by Steven Ertelt
February 10, 2005
Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Making it more difficult for Massachusetts legislators to pass a bill authorizing millions for controversial embryonic stem cell research, Governor Mitt Romney says he will propose legislation that would prohibit destroying human embryos for research in the state.
Senator Robert Travaglini, a Democrat, introduced a bill on Wednesday to remove some ambiguities in the law that discourage such research and would allow human cloning for research.
State Sen. Cindy Creem, a Democrat and one of the bill’s sponsors, said researchers at Harvard want to use embryonic stem cells from destroyed human embryos and they have had to spend extra money proving to local prosecutors that the work is not illegal.
Lawmakers assumed that the governor would support the legislation.
Governor Romney previously indicated he supports stem cell research in general, but had not explained whether he supported the more controversial use of embryonic stem cells.
In an interview Tuesday, Romney said he opposed the research, which has yet to cure any patients as adult stem cells have.
"Some of the practices that Harvard and probably other institutions in Massachusetts are engaged in cross the line of ethical conduct," Romney said.
"My wife has M.S., and we would love for there to be a cure for her disease and for the diseases of others," Romney added, "but there is an ethical boundary that should not be crossed."
Romney indicated he would oppose Travaglini’s bill and propose one of his own prohibiting embryonic stem cell research.
Meanwhile, Travaglini’s bill faces strong opposition from pro-life groups who say human life should not be destroyed to advance research. They say alternatives like adult stem cell research are available and more effective.
"We are concerned that this puts human life in the hands of biotech firms and scientists. This is an attack on the integrity and dignity of the human being,” Marie Sturgis, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told the Associated Press. "Senator Travaglini was at one time an embryo as we all were. An embryo is a human being.”
A statute dating back to 1970 prohibits fetal experimentation and it is making it difficult for researchers to destroy human embryos to obtain their stem cells.
Last year the Massachusetts state Senate passed a bill allowing embryonic stem cell research but former Speaker Thomas Finneran stopped the bill in the House. His replacement, Democratic Rep. Salvatore DiMasi, supports the bill.