Washington Legislature Defeats Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 13, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington Legislature Defeats Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 13, 2005

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — A bill which would have encouraged embryonic stem cell research has died in the Washington state legislature. On Monday, the Washington Senate killed the bill on a 26-23 vote.

The measure would have banned reproductive cloning, or cloning designed to produce babies. However, it would have allowed the cloning and destruction of human embryos for scientific research.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland) was the only Republican to vote in favor of the legislation. Senate Democrats thought they had enough votes to pass the measure, but several senators apparently changed their minds after the debate.

Opponents of the bill used parliamentary tactics to stall the bill while doing some last-minute arm-twisting.

Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) said in a news release, "I was proud to orchestrate the procedural moves that bought us the time we needed to secure the votes to defeat this proposal.

Backers of the bill claim embryonic stem cell research could lead to cures for a host of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s.

However, initial trials using embryonic stem cells have proven disastrous with patients have injections of embryonic stem cells going into convulsions. In contrast, adult stem cell research, which does not involve the killing of embryos, has proven to be far more effective.

The bill had the support of researchers at the University of Washington and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, but pro-life groups were opposed to it.

The University of Washington has been doing embryonic stem cell research for years, and that research will continue, despite the outcome of the measure. Backers of the bill say they’re not giving up, noting that there’s still a possibility the measure will be approved.

Human Life, a statewide pro-life group that led the fight against the bill, noted that an organization called Washingtonians for the Advancement of Medical Research was working to promote the embryonic stem cell research business in the state.

The organization had sent a letter to Whatcom County Council Members, urging them to support an effort to lobby the legislature to promote "responsible" stem cell research.

As Human Life stated, "Their notion of ‘responsible’ research is putting in "safeguards" and prohibiting [only] human reproductive cloning — which would allow the embryo to be implanted in the womb and brought to term."