The state’s biomedical research community is speaking out against a bill that would ban labs across the state from using tissue that came from aborted fetuses.
The legislation from Republican state Rep. André Jacque (R-De Pere) comes in response to the recent wave of accusations that Planned Parenthood clinics have been selling tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers. It would ban the sale, transfer, or use of tissue from aborted human remains.
A hearing on the bill is scheduled to start later this morning at the Capitol.
UW-Madison chemistry professor Judith Burstyn, who is part of a coalition of UW faculty opposing the bill, argues it would have a chilling effect on a wide-range of work being done in the state, both on campus and at many biotech companies. She says the bill, as it is written, “would turn some of the world’s top researchers into criminals.”
Backers of the proposal claim that research could be done using non-fetal tissue, but Burstyn says it’s not a fair comparison. She says “you can do things with these types of cells that you cannot do with other types of cells…they are an extraordinarily valuable research resources because of their flexibility.
Planned Parenthood has denied it sells aborted fetal tissue, arguing videos from anti-abortion groups have been heavily edited to conceal the actual discussions were about reimbursement for lab costs in collecting donated samples. Burstyn says federal law already prohibits the sale of the tissue, and she believes anyone who breaks the law should be prosecuted.