Delaware House Cmte Backs Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 27, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Delaware House Cmte Backs Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 27, 2005

Dover, DE ( — Delaware state House committee last week held a hearing on a bill authorizing embryonic stem cell research and voted in favor of sending the legislation on to the full state House vote a vote.

Though opponents of the bill outnumbered supporters in attendance, members of the committee approved SB 80 on a 6-1 vote. The full House is expected to take up the measure this week.

Under the measure, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Hudson, a Republican, extra embryos created at fertility clinics and scheduled for destruction would be allowed to be destroyed in stem cell research as long as the woman or couple to whom the embryo belongs allow it.

However, pro-life advocates turned out in strong numbers to express their concerns.

"This bill is being inaccurately presented as a near certain cure-all for serious human ailments," Harold Shira of the Delaware Family Foundation said during the hearing, according to the Cape Gazette newspaper.

"The implication seems to be that any who oppose this bill are opposing lifesaving medical research," he added.

Shira asked the committee to defeat the proposal and instead fund adult stem cell research, which he says is more ethical and has already produced treatments for dozens of diseases.

But, Senate sponsor Sen. Bob Venables disagreed, saying "We believe the combination of adult stem-cell research and embryonic research is needed to yield promising cures."

SB 80 does not authorize any state funds for embryonic stem cell research and creates an oversight panel that would set fines for selling embryos or scientists who engage in reproductive human cloning.

Human cloning for research purposes would not be banned under the measure and that worries Judith Fetters of Delaware Citizens for Life.

"Ethical dilemmas surrounding the creation and destruction of human life by technologists do not seem to concern the scientist or the doctor, but thinking people are concerned about the far-reaching consequences of unethical research," she told the committee.

"Our state lawmakers are being asked to redefine moral and ethical standards because the ends justify the means. They are being pressured to sanction questionable research under the guise of regulating it," she added, according to the Gazette.

The Delaware state Senate passed the measure last week and the House is expected to sign off on it.