Monday, February 12, 2007

Stem cell bill controversial

Victoria Hayslett

Issue date: 2/12/07 Section: News

In what may end up being a very controversial move, New Mexico Sen. John Ryan introduced new legislation this past week to legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state.

Senate Bill 894 aims to permit medical research to be conducted on stem cells that have come from cells in an embryo. The bill describes an embryo as an organism formed by various ways, including nuclear transfer and fertilization.

Ryan said he has not had any negative feedback so far.

"It's been pretty quiet," Ryan said.

Ryan also said he felt confident the bill would pass in the New Mexico Senate, but was not certain about the House of Representatives.

Under the bill, research in New Mexico would be conducted under the guidelines set by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.

These guidelines would prohibit cloning and the buying and selling of embryos; and states could only conduct research using discarded embryos from in vitro clinics. Fines would be imposed if research was to be conducted outside the set guidelines.

News of the new bill received reaction from New Mexico State University students.

Andrea Beeson, a freshman chemistry major, said she was against embryonic stem cell research, even if the cells came only from embryos from in vitro clinics.

"It's still a human life," Beeson said. "It's not right to use a dead baby for research when we benefit just as much from using adult stem cells as embryonic."

Ryan understands concern from opposing viewpoints, but believes the research is necessary.

"Stem cell research is very important," Ryan said. "All of the respected medical institutions indicate if we are to achieve goals in finding cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis, research needs to continue both on adult and embryonic stem cells."

SB 894 is not currently on the committee schedule, but should be in the next week or two.