Off to the Capitol: Human cloning bill

Just clones -- or embryonic stem cell research?

A bill that has worried some University of Minnesota researchers and bio-business leadersa prohibition on human cloning — is coming up for discussion today before the Senate higher education committee, which is chaired by the bill’s author, Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville).

In short, opponents of the bill don’t generally object to a ban on human cloning, but fear that some language in the bill could be read as prohibiting embryonic stem cell research — and that Minnesota would be the only state to do so.

MPR’s Lorna Benson reported that Fischbach says the bill isn’t trying to stop legitimate stem cell research — only prevent human cloning. Fischbach told MPR:

“We are very specific about that it points directly to human cloning and there’s, like I said, clarification language so that it doesn’t include other things.”

Fischbach, by the way, is married to Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which is backing the legislation.

Here’s the text of the bill being discussed today:

S.F. No. 695, 1st Engrossment – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012)   Posted on Mar 21, 2011

1.1A bill for an act

1.2relating to health; establishing the Human Cloning Prohibition Act; providing

1.3penalties;proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 145.

1.4BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

1.5 Section 1. [145.4221] HUMAN CLONING PROHIBITED.

1.6 Subdivision 1. Definitions. (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms

1.7have the meanings given.

1.8(b) “Human cloning” means human asexual reproduction accomplished by

1.9introducing nuclear material from one or more human somatic cells into a fertilized

1.10or unfertilized oocyte whose nuclear material has been removed or inactivated so as

1.11to produce a living organism at any stage of development that is genetically virtually

1.12identical to an existing or previously existing human organism.

1.13(c) “Somatic cell” means a diploid cell, having a complete set of chromosomes,

1.14obtained or derived from a living or deceased human body at any stage of development.

1.15 Subd. 2. Prohibition on cloning. It is unlawful for any person or entity, public

1.16or private, to knowingly:

1.17(1) perform or attempt to perform human cloning;

1.18(2) participate in an attempt to perform human cloning;

1.19(3) ship or receive for any purpose an embryo produced by human cloning or any

1.20product derived from such an embryo; and

1.21(4) ship or receive, in whole or in part, any oocyte, embryo, fetus, or human somatic

1.22cell, for the purpose of human cloning.

1.23 Subd. 3. Importation. It is unlawful for any person or entity, public or private, to

1.24knowingly import, for any purpose, an embryo produced by human cloning.

2.1 Subd. 4. Scientific research. Nothing in this section shall restrict areas of scientific

2.2research not specifically prohibited by this section, including research in the use of nuclear

2.3transfer of other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human

2.4embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans.

2.5 Subd. 5. Penalties. (a) The following criminal penalties apply:

2.6(1) any person or entity that knowingly or recklessly violates subdivision 2, clauses

2.7(1) and (2), shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and

2.8(2) any person or entity that knowingly or recklessly violates subdivision 2, clauses

2.9(3) and (4), shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

2.10(b) Any person or entity that violates any provision of this section and derives

2.11a pecuniary gain shall be fined $500 or twice the amount of gross gain, or any amount

2.12determined by the court.

2.13 Subd. 6. Severability. If any provision, section, subdivision, sentence, clause,

2.14phrase, or word in this section or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is

2.15found to be unconstitutional, the same is hereby declared to be severable and the remainder

2.16of this section shall remain effective notwithstanding such unconstitutional provision. The

2.17legislature declares that it would have passed this section and each provision, subdivision,

2.18sentence, clause, phrase, or word thereof, regardless of the fact that any provision, section,

2.19subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or word is declared unconstitutional.