Stem Cell Action Coalition Opposes Oklahoma House Bill 2070

Calls on OK Senate to Reject Extreme Legislation

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| Source: Genetics Policy Institute

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Stem Cell Action Coalition, comprised of medical and scientific societies, patient groups and medical philanthropies from around the world, calls for the Oklahoma Senate to reject the "Protection of Human Life Act of 2013, " which would make embryonic stem cell research a felony.

The Oklahoma House passed the Act (HB 2070) criminalizing embryonic stem cell research and defining "human embryos" as including "single-celled stage, not located in the body of a female."

Bernard Siegel, J.D., spokesperson of the Coalition said, "The Stem Cell Action Coalition joins the Oklahoma State Medical Association in opposing this extreme legislation. Embryonic stem cell research holds the promise of discovering the root causes of disease, serves as a tool for drug discovery, and will surely lead to regenerative medicines and cell therapies for repairing or replacing damaged tissues and organs. A single-cell in a lab dish should not be defined as a 'human embryo.'" Siegel continued. "Oklahoma aspires to become a center for biomedical research and biotechnology, and this legislation sends the worst message."

Should the Act become law, Oklahoma couples who choose to donate their surplus embryos from IVF treatment for humanitarian biomedical research would become felons, subject to severe penalties of prison terms of one year to life imprisonment and a fine of at least $100,000. Clinicians, researchers, their assistants and others involved in biomedical research utilizing the donated embryos would be subject to the same Draconian penalties.

The House further declared the situation an "emergency" and that the Act was necessary for the "preservation of the public peace, health and safety."

Should this bill become law, Oklahoma would interfere with reproductive and related rights of couples along several fronts. These interferences include making it a felony for infertile couples in Oklahoma to donate IVF-created embryos for research. These extra embryos are not needed for implantation or not healthy for implantation and otherwise discarded as medical waste, or frozen in perpetuity. Moreover, the bill would prevent the pursuit of meritorious medical research in Oklahoma that utilizes human embryonic stem cells.

Legislation that limits medical research in one state creates uncertainty for research institutions and biotechnology companies across the U.S. Human embryonic stem cell research has been described by scientists as the "gold standard" for those seeking to develop cures based on stem cell technology for many diseases and maladies such as Parkinson's, ALS, diabetes, MS, macular degeneration and other causes of blindness, spinal cord injuries, and a host of other medical conditions for which there is no known cure. Stem cell research must be supported to accelerate new cures and treatments.

ABOUT STEM CELL ACTION COALITION: An initiative of the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), the Stem Cell Action Coalition is a grassroots network uniting the Pro-Cures Movement. More than 100 organizations have joined Stem Cell Action Coalition to speak with one voice, building public awareness and coordinating outreach efforts to protect and advance human embryonic stem cell research. The Coalition monitors legislative efforts and litigation impacting the field. Our goal is to secure public support and appreciation for stem cell research. Learn more at www.stemcellaction.org.

Joseph Dawson
Communications Manager
Stem Cell Action Coalition 
(561) 578-5975