Legislation that would ban research using human fetal tissue collected from recent abortions drew heated testimony at the Capitol Thursday. Supporters of the bill argued it’s about making sure fetuses are not killed in the name of scientific research, while several opponents claimed the measure will do nothing to stop abortions from taking place in Wisconsin and could actually halt life-saving research that’s being done here.
The bill from state Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) is one of several measures this session that targets research relying on fetal tissue. The legislation would ban researchers from using fetal tissue collected from an abortion performed after January 1 of this year.
Moulton testified Thursday that he believes such research is “unethical,” and that the scientific community has alternatives it could explore. Those alternatives include a companion bill from Moulton, which would allow parents to donate tissue from a stillborn child or miscarriage to medical research. The committee also heard testimony on that bill, along with a competing proposal restricting fetal tissue research from state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).
“We don’t treat any other form of human life that way,” Moulton noted. “We don’t take people that have been executed and harvest organs from them…why would we treat an unborn child in a different manner?”
Lawmakers heard several hours of testimony on the bill, including warnings from members of the medical community who believe it will halt important work and damage the state’s ability to attract quality researchers and their projects. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) also argued that backers of the legislation have no “concrete evidence” that will lead to fewer abortions in the state.