April 15, 2005

Bill to ban cloning and embryonic stem cell
research passes Indiana House

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

A bill to ban cloning and embryonic stem cell research, a top priority for the Indiana Catholic Conference this year, passed the Indiana House of Representatives on April 7 by a vote of 80-15.

Senate Bill 268, authored by State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, bans cloning of all types and bans embryonic stem cell research. The bill also attaches felony charges for those participating in cloning of any type.

Under the bill, it makes: (1) the unlawful participation in; (2) the implantation of or the attempt to implant the product of; and (3) the shipment or receipt of the product of; human cloning a Class D felony. It also makes the purchase or sale of a human ovum, zygote, embryo or fetus a Class C felony.

Indiana Catholic Conference executive director Glenn Tebbe said, “The ICC’s involvement made the difference in including embryonic stem cell research or therapeutic cloning [in the bill] and not only reproductive cloning.” He said that while this may not keep some private ­individuals from doing such cloning, if caught, they could be prosecuted.

While considering legislation concerning cloning and embryonic stem cell research, the Indiana legislature worked to get a better understanding of the issue. The Indiana Catholic Conference was instrumental in this effort also by bringing Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, a national stem cell expert, to Indianapolis for a series of educational talks and to ­discuss the matter with Indiana lawmakers earlier this year.

“As much as we hear about the stem cell debate in the news, it’s amazing how few people actually know the basic facts of the issue or the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells,” said Tebbe. “The fact is adult stem cells are responsible for curing or treating over 100 diseases while embryonic stem cells have neither treated nor cured anyone.”

Tebbe said, “Like many bioethical issues facing our Church and society today, the stem cell debate is not going away anytime soon. Because of this, I think it’s especially important for Catholics to know basic facts of the issue and the Church’s position.

“The Church supports legislation which protects and upholds the sanctity of all human life, whether it is at the earliest embryonic stages, the latter stages when a person is near death, and everything in between those stages.”

Senate Bill 268 now goes to the Senate for concurrence and then to the governor.

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion.)

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