Bill’s definition of human cloning sparks debate

? 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.