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Oklahoma bill would outlaw using embryonic stem cells in food testing

An Oklahoma lawmaker said Tuesday he wants a serious discussion on his bill that would make it illegal in the state to manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption that contains aborted human fetuses.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: January 25, 2012
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“What we're saying is that if a company chooses to do this unethically, then not only will be they doing it unethically but they'll also be breaking the law at the same time,” Shortey said. “I want to start a discussion with my colleagues and I want it to be a serious discussion.”

He said he expects his measure will get a committee hearing.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said it will up to the appropriate committee chairman to determine whether the measure will get a hearing. Bills still are being assigned.

“Hopefully, at the end of the day the Legislature as a body does the right thing,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “That's part of the process that we come up and look at both sides of the issue. You can't control what a guy does when he files legislation. It's all a process and at the end of the day you want to look at the final bills that are actually passed and signed by the governor.”

Shortey said he was surprised SB 1418 has drawn so much attention. He's also filed legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 83, which seeks sending to a vote of the people a proposal to abolish the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

Last year he filed a measure which, in response to doubts about President Barack Obama's citizenship, would have required presidential candidates to provide birth certificates in order to be on the state's presidential preference primary ballot. He also filed bills that would have denied Oklahoma citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants and would have allowed police not only to question people about their immigration status but also to confiscate property, including homes and vehicles, belonging to those in the country illegally. All three failed to advance.

Shortey said his measure could evolve into one that would outlaw embryonic stem cell research in the state. A similar measure failed to advance last year in the Legislature.

“I'm a firm believer of pro-life principles and I think life begins at conception,” he said. “It's abhorrent that we don't protect that life ... and it's disgraceful that we first allow the life to be taken and then when the life is taken we just disregard the body in whatever form it's in and allow it to be used to profit a company.”

Kiesel said that debate could harm the medical research industry in the state.

“Anytime that we see politicians in Oklahoma making an effort to criminalize scientific research, it does a disturbance to the entire scientific community and it does a disturbance to the health care options that might be available to Oklahomans,” he said. “We know for a fact that there is a world of potential medical breakthrough that can come through the use of stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research. What kind of message does that send to the scientific community that we're in Oklahoma seeing again an effort to criminalize medical research? We're doing this at a time when we're trying to attract top-tiered doctors, physicians and medical researchers to our state.”