- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Family and pro-life groups are calling on Congress to pass a measure that would pre-empt a new law making California the first state to legalize embryonic stem-cell research.
The groups argue that creating a tiny embryo and keeping it alive only long enough to harvest its cells constitutes murder.
"This is objectionable," said Jan Carroll, a legislative analyst with the California ProLife Council. "Every life deserves protection under the law. We don't believe parents or the state has a moral right to consent to fatal research. We will continue to hope that the Senate passes a ban on cloning which could be helpful in this matter."
Cheryl Sullenger, regional coordinator with Operation Rescue West, agreed: "It's a real sad day here in California, and we're hoping the federal government will intervene and overturn this law."
California Gov. Gray Davis on Sunday signed legislation that allows stem-cell research in the state, a move that is a direct challenge to federal limits on the research. Last year President Bush restricted federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research to a select number of existing cell lines.
Effective Jan. 1, the new law requires fertility clinics to tell women they have the option of donating discarded embryos to research. It also requires a written consent and bans the sale of embryos.
Wendy Wright, senior policy director with the Concerned Women for America, said the law promotes "the idea that you can use human life for experimentation that ultimately causes death."
"It's disturbing because it's a fundamental disregard for human life," she said.
"The law is a classic example of putting profits and politics ahead of principle," said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council.
Yesterday a White House spokesman said Mr. Bush was unhappy with the new state law.
"The president thinks that all policies, state or federal, need to promote a culture that respects life, and in that, he does differ from what California and the governor there have done," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
But Mr. Fleischer also said Mr. Bush is a supporter of states' rights. "The president has always said states have authority within their states," he said.
Supporters of the California law said the research could be valuable in curing chronic and degenerative conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and spinal-cord injuries. Stem cells, which are found in human embryos, umbilical cords and placentas, can divide and become any kind of cell in the body.
Congress hasn't acted on any stem cell research bills or any bill to ban human cloning, and supporters said there is still a question over whether California's law would be pre-empted by a federal statute.
Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, has proposed a measure that would criminalize all forms of cloning, including therapeutic stem-cell research. Mr. Bush supports the bill. If passed, the measure could effectively shut down all U.S. stem-cell research.
However, the measure has stalled, and Mr. Brownback has proposed as a compromise a two-year moratorium on cloning. Another bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, would ban cloning for reproduction but allow it for therapeutic purposes.
State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat from Sacramento who wrote the bill, acknowledged that the issue is "a potential court battle." However, the battle is "hypothetical" until Congress acts, Mrs. Ortiz told reporters at a news conference Sunday.
"When we calculate the cost to our health care system and human suffering and pain, we understand the promise of the next level of treatment" that may come from stem-cell research, Mrs. Ortiz said. "I'm just hoping the rest of the country understands that where California is going is where they should also embark."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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