Here is a letter I sent to my state senator and representative (and surprisingly, there was no cursing!):
I wish to encourage you to sustain Governor Henry’s veto of HB 1326 that makes embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma a criminal offense. As a constituent in your district living with multiple sclerosis, stem cell research is critical in finding a cure to MS and other debilitating diseases such as Altzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and countless others.
The interpretation of this bill by many in the legislature has assumed inaccurate facts. There will be no use of stem cells from aborted fetuses. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has drawn the line saying the only stem cells used will be from discarded blastocysts left over from in-vitro fertilization treatments. These are cells developed in a petri dish and not implanted in a uterus. These cells cannot live unless implanted and will be discarded or frozen indefinitely at the expense of the donor.
Therefore, if these cells are to become medical waste, why not use them to help find a cure or treatment for thousands of Oklahomans with debilitating diseases?
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation supports language that would ban the use of tissues obtained from abortions, would ban the fertilization of a human egg solely for research purposes, and would ban so-called reproductive cloning (creating an identical clone of an individual). What OMRF believes should be permissible, but which this bill criminalizes, is to use embryonic cells created by in vitro fertilization.
If you believe that “no cures have ever come from embryonic stem cells,” you have been misled. Human embryonic stem cells were only discovered a little over ten years ago, which is far too short a time for a new treatment or cure to be developed.
This bill, if it becomes law, would also have severe economic impact on Oklahoma. It will make recruiting scientists more difficult, and it will make Oklahoma unattractive for biotechnology companies and investors.
If you override Governor Henry’s veto, this law would be the most far-reaching, restrictive, and in my view backward-looking in the country. I urge you to sustain the veto.
I have never been what one could call a political activist, but this just really got under my skin. If you live in the state of Oklahoma and think this bill is ridiculous, please contact your legislators.
P.S. Bad news. Hopefully the Senate will listen.