Legislative leaders Tuesday ordered a study on human cloning, but anti-abortion advocates anticipated the report would be a whitewash.
"This just hacks us off," said Kathy Ostrowski, a spokeswoman for Kansans for Life.
During the last session, proponents of a one-year ban on state funding of embryonic stem cell research held up consideration of a budget bill. But they agreed to drop their demands for a ban if the Legislature called for a study of the topic between legislative sessions.
"This was part of the agreement," Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said after the Legislative Coordinating Council ordered the study.
Opponents of embryonic stem cell research, including anti-abortion groups, had wanted the issue to be studied by a legislative committee.
Instead, the council gave the task to the new Kansas Health Policy Authority, a nine-member panel that has assumed oversight of most of the state's Medicaid programs and its insurance programs for state employees and uninsured children.
The authority was told to study the different types of cloning and the various terms used for types of research.
Their study must use a president's council report on cloning as its foundation in studying scientific terminology. But it also must consider terminology for stem cell research from the National Academies of Sciences and National Institute of Health. The authority also was told to study the national guidelines for stem cell research recommended by the National Academies of Sciences.
Ostrowski said she wanted the study to be done by a legislative committee, whose members are accountable to voters.
And, she said, the Health Policy Authority's executive director, Marcia Nielsen, favors stem cell research.
But Nielsen denied that her personal views would affect the study, which she said would focus on scientific definitions to help legislators in debating the issue.
"They are asking for clarity around definitions as opposed to recommendations," she said.
- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-354-4222.