Mike Reynolds Loves Embryos, Hates Sick People (UPDATED)
8:38 PM EDT on April 22, 2009
Governor Henry has until 11:59PM Wednesday night to decide whether to veto House Bill 1326. While scientists all over the state, as well as the Chamber of Commerce for both of the cities in the state that count, have been advocating that he do just that, it may not matter. The bill, which bans embryonic stem cell research in the state, passed the house 82-6 and the senate 38-9. Assuming a horde of legislators do not rush to the other side, the veto will be overridden.
House Bill 1326 not only bans state funding of embryonic stem cell research, but makes it a crime to conduct any research within the state using stem cells mined from discarded embryos. Said bill sponsor Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City):
The bill originally talked about not giving tax credits to people who participated in embryonic stem cell research, uh, we eventually just made it a criminal activity.
Look, I understand that stem cell research is controversial. While there is belief it could lead to treatment advancements, or even cures, of debilitating conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS (Lou Gehrig's), cancer, spinal cord injuries, and a multitude of genetic or immune disorders, many believe that embryos are human life.
My stance, though, is that there is debate about whether an embryo is a human life, but we all agree that someone whose brain is withering away because of Alzheimer's or waiting in vain for a heart transplant is alive. For this reason, I tend to think that the stem cells of embryos that are going to be destroyed anyway should be used for good.
Of course, Mike Reynolds disagrees. Despite the fact that his bill does not prevent embryos from being destroyed, he would rather they become nothing more than medical waste than to be used for improving the quality of life for people who meet even the strictest definition of human beings. In fact, the bill also bars the use of cures that are discovered in other states if embryonic research was used in the development. That means, insurance companies in Oklahoma likely won't cover the treatments since it would require going into another region.
Dr. Stephen Prescott, the President of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, comes at it from a different angle (which is odd considering he is a doctor). His is a more economic look. The ban passed by both houses of the Oklahoma legislature has the capability of destroying the medical research industry in the state. At a time when the state should be riding high in the industry due to major advancements discovered in sickle cell anemia, our politicians are doing their best to scare off future research grants. Seriously, why would anyone be willing to fund research in a state where the means of studying could be cut off based on religious whims?
So what would it take to convince the Oklahoma legislature to change their minds? I came up with a few ideas:
1. Start a rumor that embryonic stem cell research can cure homosexuality.
2. Tell them that the only hope of DeMarco Murray being healthy for a bowl game is through advancements brought by embryonic stem cell research.
3. Change the term to: Embryonic Stem Cell Research!
4. Convince the legislature that the research has helped to locate and alter the gene that makes Mexicans speak Spanish.
5. Get Sam Bradford to lead the opposition to HB1326.
6. Have Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, and Tom Ward buy a research lab and move it to Oklahoma City.
7. Toby Keith could write a song with the lyrics, "We'll put a beaker up your ass, it's the Oklahoma way."
UPDATE: Governor Henry did veto the bill late on Wednesday night. While the House voted to override the veto (surprisingly, just barely getting enough votes), eleven senators who voted on behalf of the bill did not vote in favor of the veto override. As of this moment, researchers trying to save lives are not criminals.
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