Delaware Lawmakers Approve Compromise Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Delaware Lawmakers Approve Compromise Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 19, 2006

Dover, DE ( — Lawmakers in the Delaware state legislature approved a stem cell research and human cloning bill that appeared to please neither side in the controversial debate. The legislation banned the sale of human embryos and reproductive human cloning, but does not place any new regulations on stem cell research.

The state House voted 32-3 in favor of SB 80, a gutted version of the original bill. The new version sets a $1 million fine for reproductive human cloning and a $100,000 fine for selling human embryos.

The bill does not affect the status of embryonic stem cell research and doesn’t contain regulations that pro-life advocates has supported.

As a result, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington announced Wednesday that it can’t support the bill, in part because human cloning for research purposes remains legal.

"While the Diocese of Wilmington agrees that human reproductive cloning is a gravely immoral practice that should be banned, we believe that the bill should ban all human cloning in the state because all human cloning is wrong and should not be permitted," it said in a statement.

Still the group thanked lawmakers for rejecting a provision that "would have permitted the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of obtaining human embryonic stem cells."

But Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who backs embryonic stem cell research, wasn’t happy either and said it was "a shame" the House didn’t pass the original version of the bill.

"There’s still room for some negotiations in trying to work between the House and Senate to return that bill to its original form," Minner said, according to a News Journal report.

However, Sen. Robert Venables, the bill’s Senate sponsor, told the newspaper he would not try to restore the original provisions when the measure comes back to the upper chamber for a concurring vote.

The removal of some of the bad provisions from the bill is credited to a newly created grassroots pro-life group called A Rose and a Prayer.

Ellen Barrosse, treasurer of the organization, said it consisted of "a bunch of people who literally met in Dover at the hearings in June who came together to fight S.B. 80."

She said secretaries for some of the lawmakers told her they had never received as many calls on a bill as they had from pro-life advocates opposing SB 80.