We hear . . .

And not from the bill’s sponsor, that the Stem Cell bill we wrote about Friday is coming under significant attack because it leaves the controversial embryonic stem cell procedures out of the mix altogether in an effort to advance research instead of deal with politics.

The bill, as written, does not address embryonic stem cell research, beyond plainly — and accurately — stating that the research has overshadowed viable post natal stem cell research that has already produced results.

The contention appears to arise in the area of cloning. A similar proposal by Senator Adelman would have defined cloning as cloned embryos intended for implantation within the womb — so we could clone embryos, just not implant them. Shafer’s bill, which aggressively prohibits human cloning, uses a more scientific based definition of cloning:

‘Human cloning’ means human asexual reproduction accomplished by introducing nuclear material from one or more human somatic cells into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte whose nuclear material has been removed or inactivated so as to produce a living organism at any stage of development that is genetically virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human organism.

Adelman’s definition, by the way, is this:

‘Human cloning’ means the asexual genetic replication of a human being by transferring a preimplantation embryo that has been created by somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis, or by other asexual means into a uterus or uterine-like environment with the purpose of creating a human fetus or a human child.

Emphasis added.

Whether the cell is implanted or not is irrelevant to cloning per se. See e.g. The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, written for common audiences, which describes cloning as

The transplantation of a nucleus from a somatic cell into an ovum, which then develops into an embryo.

Implantation into a uterus is irrelevant. It is implantation of a nucleus into an inert ovum that is key to cloning.

The problem is whether members of the State Legislature are willing to go for an all or nothing proposition — should we take no action on potentially beneficial research unless we deal with very controversial aspects to score political points, or should we be allowed to move forward on the agreed, solid ground to advance scientific research and benefit life substantially.