by Steven Ertelt
March 30, 2007
Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said on Friday that he plants to try to overturn restrictions on embryonic stem cell research put in place Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, his predecessor. The Massachusetts Public Health Council adopted the regulations on human cloning and embryonic stem cell research last August.
The rules included prohibiting the creation of human embryos solely for their destruction.
But they frustrated some Harvard University scientists who say they could expose them to criminal penalties for conducting certain research activities.
Patrick indicated on Friday that he would ask the council to review its decision and he can require it to revise its policies as the governor and head of the agency.
"I believe that life sciences should be guided by science, not politics," Patrick said, according to an AP report. He added that scientists should not have to operate "under a regulatory cloud, or to do so with one-hand tied behind their back."
He explained that he wanted the council to put forward basic research rules "and then get out of the way so that you can do what you were trained to do, and so that your imagination and creativity can have the full range of its potential."
Romney put the restrictions in place because he had a change of heart on abortion two years ago after confronting the issue of embryonic stem cell research and the destruction of days-old human beings for science.
The presidential candidate now says he’s fully pro-life and opposes both practices.
Some critics of the rules say that the state didn’t intend for such a regulation and point to a 2005 law the state legislature adopted saying the rules conflict with it.
But, at the time the rules were adopted, MDPH Deputy General Counsel Melissa Lopes said the law the state legislature adopted gives the agency the authority to write regulations — including prohibiting the creation of human embryos solely for their destruction.
In May the state legislature overrode a Romney veto of a measure that would prohibit human cloning for reproductive purposes but allowed it for scientific research.
The measure gave the state Department of Public Health some regulatory control over the research and required the creation of the MDPH.