Republican state lawmakers are once again looking to put restrictions on the use of human fetal tissue in research being done in the state.
Legislation introduced at the Capitol this week would ban the use or transfer of tissue from a fetus that was aborted after January first of this year. The measure is aimed primarily at work done using stem cells, which is being conducted at private firms and institutions such as the University of Wisconsin.
“What we’re trying to do here is make sure that the research…we are doing is ethical,” argues state Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), a sponsor of the bill.
Moulton says the legislation would not halt research using existing stem cell lines – only those created after the beginning of this year. “I’m not opposed at all to fetal tissue research,” he contends. “But I am opposed to fetal tissue research from aborted babies.”
Similar bills have been introduced in past sessions, but have faced opposition due to the potential effects they could have on Wisconsin’s biotechnology companies.
Rod Hise with Cures for Tomorrow, a coalition representing several members of the research community, believes the legislation could hurt work that’s going on in the state right now, while forcing researchers to face criminal penalties. “It would be devastating to the remarkable opportunity that we have to develop new, life-saving vaccines, therapies, and cures that would benefit patients across Wisconsin,” he says.
Moulton hopes to address concerns about limiting access to new stem cell lines with a second piece of legislation, which would allow parents of stillborn babies or who suffer miscarriages to donate those remains for research purposes. The Chippewa Falls Republican says there are nearly as many stillbirths in the state each year as there are abortions, so he sees the donation option as a viable alternative.
Both bills are currently waiting to be scheduled for public hearings at the Capitol.