- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-controlled Senate approved two bills Wednesday that would make it illegal to pay someone to distribute or sell fetal tissue in Michigan, despite Democrats’ claims that such measures are unnecessary.

The measures now go to the House for consideration.

It’s already illegal to be paid for selling or transferring fetuses and fetal tissue in the state, but Republicans say the measure was needed in the wake of undercover video filmed by an anti-abortion group that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal body parts. Planned Parenthood has denied allegations that it is profiting from selling fetal issue.

Democrats called the bills - which were approved 26-10 along party lines - unnecessary and politically motivated due to Republican bill sponsor Sen. Phil Pavlov ramping up his bid for a U.S. House seat.

Pavlov, of St. Clair, told reporters and lawmakers that the legislation sends a strong message that “baby parts are not for sale in Michigan.” He also denied Democrats’ allegations that the bills were a way to rally the base and added, “It really draws the distinction that Michigan law isn’t going to allow fetal tissue to be sold, period.”

Democrats offered up amendments that failed to get enough votes, and said that the legislation could hamper stem cell research by stopping employers from paying workers to transport fetal tissue to research facilities. It is legal to donate fetal tissue and other human organs.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 other states have some kind of law prohibiting the sale of fetuses or fetal tissue. California and Illinois permit reimbursement for removing, storing and transporting fetal tissue for research.

Warren Democratic Sen. Steven Bieda said he doesn’t think any lawmakers believe someone should profit from selling body parts and said the legislations’ scope is “far too broad and far too vague.”

Bieda added, “I want to reiterate: This is already illegal.”


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