The state Legislature will likely greet President Barack Obama’s Monday decision to lift federal ban on embryonic stem cell research with an attempt to impose restrictions of its own in Georgia.
State Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) said Friday that he has performed some radical surgery on S.B. 169, which was originally drafted as a reaction to the California “octuplet mom” and would have limited the number of fertilized eggs created by clinics.
My AJC colleague Mary Lou Pickel posted the details last night:
Smith said he has removed from the bill everything to do with fertility clinics and how many embryos can be transferred into a woman, but he has left language that deals with cloning and embryos used for scientific research.
The bill as amended would prohibit cloning and chimera experimentation — crossing human genetic material with that of animals — which Smith called “creepy.” It would prohibit creating a human embryo for the purposes of scientific experimentation in Georgia, but would allow such research to continue using embryos created outside the state.
The bill also addresses the idea of personhood, Smith said.
“It does advance the position that an embryo has more rights than a piece of property,” he said.
Embryonic stem cell research uses newly-created human embryos discarded from fertility clinics. Because the discarded embryos are destroyed in the process, many Christian conservatives —- though not all —- equate the practice with abortion.
President Barack Obama plans to hold a public event Monday where he will announce his plan to lift restrictions on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can grow and become any cell in the body, and scientists hope to use them to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or to treat spinal chord injuries.
Republicans in Georgia have predicted that changes in federal rules regarding stem cell research will prompt a state debate over the issue.
That debate is likely to begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday in a subcommittee meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. If voted out, the full committee will take it up an hour later.
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