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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Bill’s definition of human cloning sparks debate

February 6, 2007

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— A bill to define human cloning set the stage Monday between anti-abortion advocates and those who support stem cell research.

"It is understood that battles can be won merely by redefining language," said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group. "That is why the accurate definitions of scientific terms in the area of human cloning and destructive embryonic research must be put into law."

But during a hearing on the bill before the House Health and Human Services Committee, opponents of the measure said its definitions were inaccurate.

"This legislation puts bad definitions into statute for future use," said Duane Simpson, a spokesman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a national trade group. "The definitions used come from political activists and political appointees."

Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at Kansas University Medical Center, described himself as a neutral witness but presented four pages of terms and definitions that he said were inaccurate.

Kansas Coalition for Lifesaving Cures said the bill's language could imperil research that could help hundreds of thousands of Kansans.

But David Prentice, of the Family Research Council, which describes itself as promoting the Judeo-Christian worldview, said the bill used definitions that had been approved by President Bush's Council on Bioethics.

State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, and chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, said House Bill 2098 would help the Legislature in debates on whether to ban cloning.

"It would be helpful for definitions to be in place," Landwehr said.

But state Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the measure would hurt Kansas' efforts in bioscience because its definitions stray from mainstream science.

Comments

Baille 7 years, 10 months ago

"But David Prentice, of the Family Research Council, which describes itself as promoting the Judeo-Christian worldview, said the bill used definitions that had been approved by President Bush's Council on Bioethics."

Oh. Well then clearly the definitions are fine. Certainly George Bush's Council on Bioethics is a credible, viewpoint-neutral body of scholars.

Beyond the obvious logical fallacy in supporting a factual claim with nothing more than an appeal to a (dubious) authority, has anyone seen the actual definitions used and the list produced by Paul Terranova?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Ignored were definitions and descriptions used by the National Academy of Sciences, the Society for Developmental Biology, and other scientific organizations.

It is hard to tell the difference between this and outright lying. If you can't persuade people through reason and argument, try to scare them into submission. Typical of the Kansas Krazies.

Again, more ideologically-driven nonsense from the religious right in Kansas.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

"It is understood that battles can be won merely by redefining language," said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of Kansans for Life

At least they are admitting that their purpose in redefining these terms is political and has nothing to do with the truth or with science. Only "winning" in the political arena.

Jamesaust 7 years, 10 months ago

"A bill to define human cloning set the stage Monday between anti-abortion advocates and those who support stem cell research."

Those who "oppose" stem cell research do so quite vocally because of a common (and extreme) definition of the origin of human life.

Those who "support" stem cell research do so quite vocally because they believe in its merits and possibilities - regardless of whether they are "pro" or "anti" abortion.

That is largely because there is little that science contributes to the abortion debate; typical reason and experience supply most of the means people need to understand and weigh alternatives in that debate.

In contrast, stem cell research is highly reliant upon scientific insight and is a subject that relatively few - probably less than half - of people are informed enough to evaluate adequately. That's true - btw - for both sides of that debate. As such, most people use a proxy (much like on numerous other subjects) to take a position, if they even do that much. That proxy for stem cell research is often abortion.

The result is a (more) non-empirical subject controlling an (more) empirical one. That also explains why there is a distinct minority that opposes abortion but supports stem cell research but almost no one who favors abortion rights but opposses the research.

Therefore, the example of 'journalistic bias' fails. The description is in fact nuanced and revealing.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Good points, JA.

However, I would say that the opponents of stem cell research/abortion move beyond simple ignorance. Theirs is a willful ignorance and a deliberate attempt to mislead.

One only need review the ads run by opponents of the Missouri stem cell amendment, which showed gaggling and cooing babies, implying these were the sources of human embryonic stem cells. In reality, the source is a small ball of cells more reminiscent of a volvox than anything most would recognize as a baby or even a fetus.

fletch 7 years, 10 months ago

And this is why Kansas isn't going to win the biodefense lab.

oldgoof 7 years, 10 months ago

David Prentice is supposedly a expert on these issues. He at one time was self-described as Senator Brownback's "science adviser." . So how does one become Sam Brownback's science adviser? ? ? What are the qualifications, you might wonder. . Well, David Prentice, who is the same age as Sam Brownback, grew up in the same 600-person town of Parker, Kansas. .. I guess the answer is not thorough "peer-review."

oldgoof 7 years, 10 months ago

And fletch may have a point. Even promoter Pat Roberts is with the conservatives on this issue.

Jamesaust 7 years, 10 months ago

So how does one become Sam Brownback's science adviser?

No doubt, one would begin with an intelligent design narrative like this: http://www.newyorker.com/shouts/content/articles/050926sh_shouts

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

Abortion is a moot point when it comes to Stem Cell research now. It has been discovered how to remove them from afterbirths, amneotic fluid and other sources. There is also a new technique that allows stem-cell harvesting without harming whatever you could call a viable "fetus". Yet people like Bush are still blind and dumb about this.

Stem-cells may very well spell out the complete elimination of horrid diseases and disorders. From your senile Great Grandmother, to your diabetic aunt, to your neighbor that suffers from Parkinsons. And let us not forget that it could do other things such as allowing Professor Hawking to walk again, and much more. Yet people, in their ignorance, have been fooled into believing that this is a battle over abortion. It's not. It never was. It is an issue over playing with things that 30 years ago was considered impossible.

That, and too many monster movies. People are worried about multi tentacled snakes sucking out their blood while they sleep and turning the human populace into zombies.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

parkay, your paranoid and looney-lie rant proves my point better than I ever could.

quod erat demonstrandum

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"A bill to define human cloning set the stage Monday between anti-abortion advocates and those who support stem cell research."

Wha? "A bill to define A set the stage between advocates of B and those who support C." So what are they talking about, then? A, B or C? I'm confused.

oldgoof 7 years, 10 months ago

Worstnightmare: That should be.... á½ÏÎµÏ á¼-Î'ει Î'εá¿-ξαι

Jamesaust 7 years, 10 months ago

parkay: lies such as claiming that somatic cell nuclear transfer is not really human cloning, and that the union of sperm and egg does not really create a distinct new human life.

Congratulations. You've answered the riddle that has stumped philosophers and theologians for millennia. (Stupid medieval theologians! Who's going to help you now? Aristotle? Thomas Aquinas? Parkay says 'Take that!')

Seriously, I can't tell if you're stupid or a liar. But I doubt it matters much one way or the other, except to twins who apparently are not "distinct" from each other. (Query: is it a lie to take twins as two income tax deductions, seeing that they aren't distinct from each other?)

Please keep your Culture of Death to yourself and out of others' lives - that's "real" lives, not precursors to potential lives. It has no basis in biology, history, or even theology. These issues are already full enough of ethical dilemmas with inserting wacko ones into the mix.

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