Legislators move to restrict use of embryos

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ATLANTA --- Georgia lawmakers on Monday rushed to restrict the use of embryos for stem cell research in the state as President Obama lifted limits on using federal dollars for such work.

President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order on stem cells and a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  Associated Press
Associated Press
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order on stem cells and a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Supporters believe embryonic stem cell research could lead the way to treating serious ailments, such as Parkinson's disease and spinal injuries. But opponents, including many religious groups, argue that the promise of embryonic stem cells is overblown and that the work is an assault on life in its earliest form.

On Monday, Georgia Senate Republicans pushed the "Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act" through a key committee with little debate and just eight minutes of testimony. The measure would define an embryo as a person. It would ban the creation of an embryo for scientific research in the state and would also prevent the destruction of fertilized embryos for any reason. Violators could face a fine of up to $1,000 per offense and be stripped of their medical licenses.

The Georgia bill is believed to be the first state measure reining in embryonic stem cell research after Mr. Obama revealed plans to overturn restrictions put in place by President Bush. Mr. Obama's announcement in Washington on Monday morning came as the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee cleared the Georgia measure by a vote of 7-6. The bill had only passed subcommittee about two hours earlier by a 2-1 vote.

"We are asking for the destruction of human life to be curtailed in the state of Georgia," Dan Becker, president of the group Georgia Right to Life, told the Senate panel. "This is the beginning, the foundation."

Gov. Sonny Perdue said he does not favor embryonic stem cell research.

"I am absolutely opposed to creating embryos to cure a disease," Mr. Perdue told reporters Monday. "I think there are other tissues that can be used and we can develop that research to cure disease."

As part of his economic development strategy, Mr. Perdue has been pushing to make Georgia a hub for life sciences and biological research and development.

But critics said the bill would undermine that. They contend the measure closes the door on promising forms of stem cell research in Georgia even as federal money begins to flow to promote it.

"Make no mistake ... this will prohibit embryonic stem cell research in the state," Russell Medford, past chairman of Georgia Bio, an industry group, said. "It will have the effect of branding Georgia as an anti-technology state."

Although the bill was stripped of earlier provisions that would have limited the number of fertilized eggs a woman may be implanted with, medical experts said the revised bill still complicates in vitro fertilization treatments in the state by banning the destruction of human embryos. Fertility clinics could be forced to store unused embryos forever and doctors could also face worries about what would happen if they destroy embryos as part of the fertility treatment.

"This would drastically change IVF in this state," said Dr. Jim Toner, an Atlanta reproductive endocrinologist.

The bill could face a Senate vote this week. It must still pass the House.

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SargentMidTown 03/10/09 - 07:55 am
What a joke. Have the embryos

What a joke. Have the embryos for supper if they will cure your ills. At least generational welfare mothers will be good for something.

backpac-bill 03/10/09 - 08:15 am
You fools in "ATLANTA" are

You fools in "ATLANTA" are great?Why not close all "CDC" locations in the Atlanta area send the research to another state.That would be more constructive.Has Sonny paid his "B" loan yet.

reader54 03/10/09 - 09:21 am
Oh, great ! The religious

Oh, great ! The religious right is going to try and control science.

i.b.e.w..electric 03/10/09 - 09:30 am
thats a republican for

thats a republican for you,they would rather throw an aborted fetus in the trash than see it do somebody some good .anything used to help people is just not their way and never will be,they are a scurge to humanity.

MJDW 03/10/09 - 10:27 am
i.b.e.w..electric, where did

i.b.e.w..electric, where did it asy anything about an aborted fetus? This is about creating embryos for scientific study.

WhatNow 03/10/09 - 11:00 am
The religious right is not

The religious right is not trying to "control science." We (yes, I'm proud to admit I am religious and conservative) are simply trying to do the right thing. Is it better that the liberal left control science? Look where that has gotten us, by forcing all of this green living down our throats. Embryonic stem cell research isn't all the news media, Hollywood, and the liberal left would like you to believe. It will never be OK to farm babies (yep, they are alive) to kill them for science!

digmick 03/10/09 - 02:47 pm
What now, isn't the octuplet

What now, isn't the octuplet mother an example of creating a baby artificially. Shouldn't we have babies created as God intended... through copulation?

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