With Pro-Life Gains, States Should Target Cloning, Stem Cells

Bioethics   |   Bill Saunders   |   Jan 25, 2011   |   4:41PM   |   Washington, DC

With the sweeping pro-life gains in 2010 will come enhanced chances for pro-life successes in the states.  At AUL, we have already had numerous requests at the state level for advice and model bills, mainly dealing with abortion issues.

But we hope that among the pro-life gains this session will also come regulations of biotechnologies.   To date, only eight states prohibit destructive stem cell research, and only eight states prohibit human cloning for all purposes (both cloning-for-biomedical-research and cloning-to-produce-children).  Only seven states prohibit public funding (or use of state facilities) for unethical forms of research.

Unfortunately, legislators’ interest in enacting pro-life bioethics legislation has waned in recent years.  In 2005, there were approximately 500 bills introduced related in some manner to stem cell research and/or cloning.  By 2010, the number of introduced bills related to any biotechnologies shrank to just 83.

The need for states to prohibit destructive embryo research and human cloning is all the more necessary given the Obama Administration’s obvious desire to fund embryo-destructive research, in spite of the fact that progress in stem cell research has come largely through adult stem cells.  While the courts weigh the legality of Obama’s decision, in light of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, to use federal funds for such research, under a tortured distinction between funds used to destroy embryos and funds used for further research, the states should be taking the necessary steps to curtail research that is harmful to human life.

Americans United for Life offers a number of model bills to that end, including prohibitions on destructive embryo research and cloning, as well as a model bill prohibiting state funding of unethical research.  The political gains of 2010 offer much hope; but with that hope comes responsibility.  We are optimistic that state legislators will return to issues of bioethics in 2011.