Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Andy Meisner's False Stem Cell Claims

During his appearance on Off the Record (a public television program focusing on Michigan politics) on June 22, 2007, Representative Andy Meisner made a number of false claims regarding the issue of stem cell research and his legislation to legalize the killing of human embryos for research and the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos. You can view this program online here.

Meisner claimed there is a ban on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan despite the fact there is currently research involving embryonic stem cells occurring at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan received a large 3-year federal grant to perform research on embryonic stem cells in 2003. Embryonic stem cell research is not banned in Michigan. Killing or experimenting on human embryos for research is banned in Michigan. This doesn't prevent researchers from experimenting on embryonic stem cells.

Meisner claimed legislation passed in 1998 was the "second ban on stem cell." Meisner is referring to Michigan's ban on human cloning which was a package of bills passed in 1998 with unanimous votes in the Michigan Senate and with 85+ votes (out of 110) in the Michigan House. Meisner and other proponents of human cloning for research typically avoid telling people they are in favor of human cloning for research or if they do they'll frequently use terms like "nuclear transfer" or "somatic cell nuclear transfer" because they know the majority of people are very uncomfortable with human cloning and creating human embryos solely for research. They also know that many people aren't familiar with the terms nuclear transfer and somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Meisner also claimed his legislation was about doing embryonic stem cell research restricted to stem cells taken from embryos leftover from in vitro fertilization. Yet Meisner's legislation would legalize the killing of cloned human embryos (which aren't "leftover from in vitro fertilization). His legislation would allow researchers to kill human embryos created by human cloning. Meisner's legislation (H.B. 4616) says, "A person may use a live human embryo to derive stem cells for nontherapeutic research if those embryos were from either of the following sources:" and then lists the following as a source,
"Notwithstanding section 16274, the utilization of a somatic cell nuclear transplantation procedure which was for the sole purpose of creating nuclear transfer blastocysts for the extraction of embryonic stem cells. As used in this subdivision, "blastocyst" means an embryo..."
In other words, his legislation legalizes the killing of a live human embryos (blastocysts) created by human cloning (somatic cell nuclear transplantation procedure) as long as they were created for the sole purpose of being killed for their stem cells.

Meisner is on the advisory board of the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures. Their web site describes human cloning for research (which they call nuclear transfer) by saying, "Nuclear transfer is a laboratory procedure that creates embryos for use in stem cell research; sometimes referred to as ‘therapeutic cloning.'" On another page they describe Meisner's legislation by saying, "Proposals being considered by some policymakers would lessen state restrictions on stem cell research by removing restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, allowing for the creation of stem cells through nuclear transfer."

Unfortunately, Andy Meisner has not been honest with the Michigan people about Michigan's current law and what his legislation would do. If the people of Michigan are so in favor of human cloning and killing human embryos for their stem cells then why does Andy Meisner need to lie about his legislation?