South Dakota Senate Defeats Bid to Overturn Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ban

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Senate Defeats Bid to Overturn Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ban

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 4
, 2010

Pierre, SD ( — The South Dakota legislature has defeated legislation designed to overturn the state’s ban on embryonic stem cell research — which has scientists killing unborn children for their stem cells. With the legislative defeat the backer of a state ballot proposal to do the same thing may revive his effort.

Yesterday, the state Senate rejected a bill that would allow state residents to get any treatments authorized by the FDA based on embryonic stem cells.

Since embryonic stem cell research has never cured a single patient or even been tried in humans because of problems with them causing tumors and immune system rejection issues, state residents would likely not be treated anytime soon.

The Senate voted down the bill on a 21-12 vote.

Former state Treasurer David Volk of Sioux Falls started a petition drive last year to get a proposal before South Dakota voters to overturn the ban.

He told the Rapid City Journal he will need to work to get enough signatures to get the measure on the state ballot this November.

"We’ve got to kind of reassess this," he said, not knowing if he could get the signatures.

Bob Ellis of the conservative web site Dakota Voice talked more about the situation.

He said "the original bill had been a direct assault on the ban on ESCR. However, it became apparent from the damning scientific testimony before the Health and Human Services Committee against embryonic stem cell research and for adult stem cell research that the bill was about to go down in total flames."

"The prime sponsor Senator Ben Nesslhuff then offered to gut the bill and replace the outright attack on the ban with a much weaker measure which might serve as a ‘foot in the door’ to get the results of ESCR into the state,’ he explained.

Ellis hopes the statewide ballot measure won’t qualify.

"Hopefully we’ve seen the last of this year’s attempt to undo our state’s protection of innocent human life, but with all the overblown hype over this issue and with all the research grants to be gained, the effort is sure to be back again next year–with the only difference then being that, most likely, there will be more successful adult stem cell therapies to compare to ESCR’s big goose egg," he said.

Those who voted for the bill: Senators Dempster, Heidepriem, Knudson, Turbak Berry, Adelstein, Jerstad, Nelson, Vehle, Hundstad, Merchant, Nesselhuf, and Tieszen.

While embryonic stem cell research has never helped a single patient, and caused tumors and sparked immune system rejection issues when used in animals, alternatives are faring well.

A new process called direct reprogramming has been able to convert adult stem cells into an embryonic-like state where they are already showing promising results. Those iPS cells, combined with adult stem cells, are the kind of ethical stem cell research pro-life advocates favor and they are showing the best hope for patients.

Related web sites:
Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls –
South Dakota Right to Life –

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