Republican lawmakers at the Capitol are hoping to move quickly on a bill that would ban the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research, although one GOP leader in the state Assembly says they are looking at potential amendments.
The legislation was the subject of a heated hearing earlier this week, which saw experts from the University of Wisconsin and private sector criticizing the potential impact of the bill. The research community claimed it could disrupt work that’s currently being done in the state and drive top talent out of Wisconsin, while damaging the state’s reputation in the biomedical community. Supporters of the prohibition argued the state should not be helping to promote abortions in order to further research.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday that they are looking at possible changes and will work with the bill’s sponsors. “We are open to making amendments, if it’s necessary…we’re going to sit down with the authors, talk it through and try to craft a bill that can pass both chambers, get signed by the governor, and ultimately be upheld in court.”
One possible amendment could simply apply the prohibition to research done using fetal tissue donated after its effective date. Vos said that could allow existing work to go on. “If unborn children have been utilized in the past, I think that’s horrific, but I accept the fact that they’re already being used in research,” he said. However, Vos feels a “reasonable restriction” should be able to stop it in the future.
Even if the Assembly passes the bill this fall, Republican leaders in the state Senate have expressed some concerns of their own. Governor Scott Walker was also non-committal this week when pressed on whether he supports the proposal.