- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The use of fetal tissue for medical research in Iowa would be banned under a bill approved Tuesday by some Republican lawmakers, though critics argue it could jeopardize life-saving cures.

A GOP-led subcommittee of the Senate Human Resource Committee voted for the bill, which would largely prohibit acquiring or transporting fetal tissue in the state. The bill now moves to the full committee.

The legislation is similar to a bill passed in the Iowa House last year that would have banned using aborted fetal tissue for research. That bill failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but with Republicans controlling the both chambers this year, the new measure could fare better.

The Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s three public universities, opposes the legislation. It requested an exemption Tuesday that would allow research on certain fetal cells and proposed language that would enable medical donations and permit the diagnosis of diseases. Legislators didn’t approve the amendment, but they said they might consider it later.

Committee chair Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said he supported the bill because he believes any sale of fetal tissue is “morally objectionable,” though federal law already prohibits profiting from fetal tissue donation.



“Obviously we don’t want to hinder medical research,” he said. “However, we also need to understand there is a moral responsibility, as well, to ensure that baby body parts aren’t being sold.”

Several supporters of the bill made multiple references to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland while discussing fetal tissue donations, though a representative said the Iowa affiliate does not participate in such donations.

Advocates for the legislation also said current medical advancements provide alternatives to the use of fetal tissue. Critics argued there is no acceptable substitute for certain human embryonic cells used in research.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames and the sole Democrat on the panel, objected to how the legislation would interfere with medical research at state universities.

“I would have a hard time explaining to any of my constituents who are struck with a life-threatening disease or condition that they were going to have to die because we stood in the way of medical research using research tools that have been established for decades,” he said.

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Follow Linley Sanders on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LinleyAnn

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