Topeka Supporters of a ban on using public funds for human cloning said Monday that the proposal would ensure that no tax dollars are used for such controversial research.
But opponents of House Bill 2255 said the measure goes much further by blocking promising research on stem cells that has nothing to do with cloning.
The House Health and Human Services Committee took no action on the proposal brought forward by state Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, but committee leaders seemed interested in working on it.
Nikolas Nikas, president and general counsel of the Arizona-based Bioethics Defense Fund, urged lawmakers to approve the bill.
Most Kansans, he said, don't want their tax dollars spent on research they find "morally unacceptable."
Nikas is serving as counsel in a challenge of last year's amendment in Missouri that guaranteed that any federally allowed stem cell research can occur in that state.
But Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at the Kansas University Medical Center, said the bill would also ban therapeutic cloning that uses somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is referred to SCNT.
"The inability of Kansas scientists to perform human therapeutic cloning with SCNT technology will adversely compromise research in our state," Terranova said.
The SCNT process transplants DNA into an unfertilized egg to grow stem cells, which are primitive cells that can develop into other types of cells under certain conditions. Researches say that this process could be used to treat diseases and repair damaged organs.
But Nikas and several others said the SCNT process is immoral because it destroys a human life once the stem cells are taken out.
Kansans for Life, Concerned Women of America and the Kansas Catholic Conference supported the bill. Americans for Stem Cell Therapies & Cures, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Kansas Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, and the Parkinson Foundation of the Heartland opposed it.