I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Embryonic stem cell research bill dies in N.M. House
The 30-38 vote came after an at-times emotional, wide-ranging debate that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Supporters and opponents wrangled over religious faith, the question of when life begins and what embryonic stem-cell research can or cannot produce in the way of medical breakthroughs.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, would have permitted research and clinical applications involving human embryonic stem cells targeted for disposal or deemed excess tissue by fertility clinics.
It also required scientists to have the informed consent of the original owner of the embryo before doing research and in accordance with federal guidelines. It also prohibited human reproductive cloning.
Supporters generally argued that legalizing the use of embryonic stem-cell research promised the “greatest medical breakthroughs of our generation.”
Opponents responded that the embryos were the same as fetuses and that using them for research was unethical.
State Rep. Dianne Miller Hamilton, R-Silver City, said her religious faith was as persuasive as scientific evidence in leading her to oppose the bill.
“Most of us who came in know how we were going to vote,” Hamilton said. “My conscience tells me I can’t vote for this. It’s my faith; it’s my moral standards. This is as important as scientific facts. I do believe it is a matter of conscience.”
Meanwhile, state Rep. James Strickler, R- Farmington, said the promises of medical breakthroughs talked up by advocates were questionable.
Strickler read from an e-mail he said he had received from Ph.D. scientist.
“Adult stem cells have already led to treatments for more than 100 diseases and cures for about 50 diseases,” Strickler said reading from the correspondence. “There is not a single treatment that has been yielded from embryonic stem-cell research.”
Supporters, however, argued that the promise of finding treatments or cures for incurable diseases through research had persuaded them.
“A big argument for me is that this is completely up to the couple or individual that owns the embryos,” said state Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, who participated in The New Mexico Independent’s live blog of the floor debate. “If they want the embryos to be frozen for longer, discarded, or used for research, they decide. It’s like abortion: If you don’t want to have one, don’t, but don’t force your own beliefs onto others, especially if using these embryos for research will save others from painful, debilitating diseases.”
The debate in the House over embryonic stem-cell research comes after President Obama issued an executive order on March 9 that reversed the Bush administration’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
That fact came up for discussion occasionally.
State Rep. Thomas Anderson, R-Albuquerque, asked: “Why are we doing this now that President Obama has lifted the ban on this?”
“So that we could perform this type of research which has been in moratorium since President Bush signed it in 2001,” responded state Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque.
The bill had never gotten this far in the Legislature in the previous two years it was proposed. Gov. Bill Richardson has said previously that he would sign the bill.