Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) is a leading champion of “non-destructive stem cell research.” He believes that the ethical controversy over embryonic stem cells, which are derived in a process that destroys a human embryo, has hampered stem cell research generally.
Shafer introduced legislation last year creating a Georgia Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank to encourage the collection of postnatal tissue and fluid that is rich in stem cells that can be used for medical research and treatment without destroying human life at any stage of development. That legislation won unanimous approval of both House and Senate but failed in the final moments of the session when adjournment came before a motion to reconcile minor differences between the two versions of the bill.
To the credit of Governor Sonny Perdue, he kept Shafer’s idea alive by executive order, creating the a temporary commission on newborn umbilical cord blood research.
Shafer is back with Senate Bill 148, the Saving the Cure Act, which would make the Governor’s commission permanent under a new name, set up the Georgia Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank and promote non-destructive research. This bill won the bipartisan approval of the Senate Science and Technology Committee, but backers of embryonic stem cell research want to strip out the definition of “nondestructive stem cell research” so that it can be hijacked as a vehicle for promoting embryo destructive research.
Shafer is on the right track, both ethically and fiscally. All of the cures from stem cell research have come from non-embryonic sources. Other states like California and Wisconsin, looser with both morals and money, promote the more dubious embryonic stem cell research. Georgia should lead in the non-embryonic area. But it needs to hurry. The new Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, has just announced an effort to make his state a leader in non-embryonic research.
I am 100% behind Shafer’s Senate Bill 148, and I hope he resists any “poison pill” amendments that would open it up to embryo destructive research. For more information about his bill, visit this new website at www.savingthecure.org.