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GOP’s medical research ban will kill life-saving work

by Joe Bodell on March 31, 2011

Will wonders never cease? The Republican majorities in the legislature are intent upon destroying every technological and economic advantage Minnesota has over warm-weather states — this time it’s life-saving medical research, under the guise of a “human cloning ban.”

The bill, of course, does a lot more than ban human cloning (and chimaeras, can’t forget about them) — it bans therapeutic stem cell research, which a huge number of medical professionals believe holds the key to curing Alzheimers disease, Parkinson’s disease, perhaps even cancer. But hey, that’s no good for the GOP, right?

Sen. Ron Latz tried to get the bill changed in committee to delineate between a cloning ban (with which few disagree) and the generally accepted stem cell research (which is just along for the GOP’s witch hunt):

“For weeks, Minnesota’s research community has warned that Republicans’ supposed effort to ban “human cloning” was really an effort to halt embryonic stem cell research in our state.  Today, our worst fears were confirmed.

Republicans have buried their cloning ban provision within the Senate’s Higher Education funding bill.  As we discussed that bill on the floor today, our caucus offered several amendments related to the provision, each under the hope that we could protect the valuable research potential at the Universityof Minnesotaand the Mayo Clinic.

One such amendment would have made clear that the funding ban applied only to human reproductive cloning done for the purpose of prohibiting the reproduction of a live human being. It would have allowed therapeutic research cloning to continue. The Republicans voted in unison to reject this amendment.

Another amendment would have added a simple clarification to the GOP’s so-called cloning ban.  It read: “this section does not prohibit the use of state or federal funds for research using somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos to seek cures for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cystic fibrosis, macular degeneration, spinal cord injury, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or any other medical disease or condition.”

By adding this simple amendment, we could have ensured that the Republican bill would not have impacted critical, life-saving research in Minnesota.  Unfortunately, Senate Republicans rejected this amendment too.

Republicans’ opposition to this amendment makes it clear: their so-called ban on cloning does nothing more than impose a very conservative religious definition of when life begins on the scope of scientific stem cell research in Minnesota.”

Personally, I think Sen. Latz is going a bit easy on his Republican colleagues on this one, and not really framing the issue correctly. This is a simple case of Republican legislators cutting off Minnesota’s high-tech and medical research sectors’ noses to spite their ideological opponents’ faces.

Mississippi has nothing on us for backward economic movement.

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