Did Senator Adelman Read the Legislation?

What’s up with David Adelman? He wrote this in the AJC:

A competing bill was introduced last week that would take the extraordinary step of criminalizing research on new embryonic stem cell lines. This bill, SB 596, is tricky. It looks a lot like my bill. Its author gave it a confusingly similar name and copied my bill verbatim in many places. But, in stark contrast to my bill, SB 596 criminalizes embryonic stem cell research, making it a felony, requiring up to a 10-year prison sentence and imposing a $100,000 fine on researchers who work on new stem cell lines.

Clearly the senator has either not read the legislation or is more interested in scoring partisan points than actually moving forward solid research. Here is the actual text to which the senator refers:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity, public or private, knowingly to:
(1) Perform or attempt to perform human cloning;
(2) Participate in an attempt to perform human cloning; or
(3) Ship or receive for any purpose an embryo produced by human cloning.
(b) Any person or entity that violates this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to serve not less than one nor more than ten years imprisonment or pay a fine in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00, or both.

In fact, if you do a word search for “embryonic

8 comments

  1. Decaturguy says:

    Interesting post Erick. I think Adleman read the bill. I guess the whole controversy depends on the interpretation of the definition of “human cloning.” Both bills prohibit it and both bills provide for the same criminal punishment for engaging in cloning.

    However, Adleman’s bill defines cloning as “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.”

    Shafer’s bill defines cloning as “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.”

    Now, I’m not a scientist and have no idea about what any of that means, however, I think Adleman is arguing that under Shafer’s definition on “cloning” actually encompasses creating new stem stell lines and would be criminally punishable, whereas his definition of cloning does not include creating new stem cell lines.

    Am I wrong? That is the essence of the entire debate, isn’t it?

  2. Rusty says:

    Erick,
    Whether Adelman is right or not, the Republican bill leaves enough wiggle room with what would be penalized to scare off biotech companies. It’s disingenuous to say it ignores stem cells altogether when there is that much room for interpretation. It’s bad legislation.

  3. Erick says:

    Decaturguy, I think it does come down to the definition of cloning and, having gone through every medical encyclopedia available on the web and talking to several experts, I feel confident in saying that Shafer’s definition better encapsulates cloning than Adelman’s. Again, implantation in the uterus has nothing to do with cloning per se, only birthing a clone.

    Rusty, on Shafer’s bill, every lattitude is given, including the cloning or organs and animals, except the cloning of human beings.

  4. Erick says:

    And yes, to answer critics, despite being on codine and suffering through a terrible virus, cloning and embryology are two topics in biology I actually know about and know experts in the field that I’m comfortable calling on when I don’t know the answer.

    What Adelman is probably getting at is that he wants to be able to create cloned embryos and then extract stem cells therefrom. That would be prohibited by Shafer’s bill. But, it is a stretch to say that this actually makes embryonic stem cell research illegal. There are plenty of embryos that can be harvested and stem cells extracted without cloning the embryos. Shafer’s bill does not address that at all.

    Adelman is just stretching the argument in a lawyerly way, but in a way that loosens credibility on his argument.

  5. 31-46-5.
    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity, public or private, knowingly to:
    (1) Perform or attempt to perform human cloning;
    (2) Participate in an attempt to perform human cloning; or
    (3) Ship or receive for any purpose an embryo produced by human cloning.
    (b) Any person or entity that violates this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to serve not less than one nor more than ten years

  6. spaceygracey says:

    Thank goodness for all this anti-cloning hysteria/legislation/pandering. The thought of one more Republican like Nancy Shaefer running loose through the streets is pretty scary stuff!

  7. Maurice Atkinson says:

    Many times there is a conflict between Science, Law and Ethics. As I read this bill, I find that it is enormously enabling for good research without violating sound ethics. As one who is afflicted with FascioScapuloHumeral Muscular Dystrophy, and been a research recipient, I applaud this piece of pro-active legislation.

    It is endorsed by many conservative groups. Yesterday I contacted the FSH Society in Boston. Their response after reading the bill, was positive. “The Georgia Bill is far less complicated and cord blood is an excellent resource for stem cells and embryonic stem cell material as well. The definitions in the bill are helpful and an excellent idea.

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