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Bill prohibiting all cloning vetoed in Wisconsin

7 November 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 333

Jim Doyle, the Governor of the US State of Wisconsin, has vetoed legislation (bill 499) passed in the state that would have meant that all forms of human cloning were prohibited. He says that he used his right of veto because the law would mean that some of the 'most promising' research into human disease - that using human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) - would be criminalised.

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate passed the bill banning all forms of human cloning in September. At the time, Governor Doyle vowed to veto the measure. The day before the bill was passed, an amendment which would have allowed cloning for research whilst blocking reproductive cloning was narrowly defeated by 17 votes to 16. The bill, which had been passed by the Wisconsin Assembly in June would, create some of the toughest restriction in the US, making anyone carrying out this research liable to punishment of up to ten years in prison and $1 million or more in fines.

Doyle also said that the legislation would damage the State's reputation as a leader in the ES cell research field. This would be particularly true, he said, coming so soon after the University of Wisconsin Madison (UW-Madison) announced in summer that it had landed a $16 million contract from the US government to run a national stem cell bank, initially for four years.

The bill would have banned human reproductive cloning in the state, drawing Wisconsin into line with a growing number of US states that prohibit the practice as well as other jurisdictions, including the UK, and the US Food and Drugs Administration. But it would also have banned 'therapeutic cloning; a process that uses cloning procedures similar to those used to create Dolly the sheep, in order to create embryos from which stem cells matching the donor are derived. Doing so involves the destruction of embryos, meaning that many pro-life groups are opposed to ES cell research. Doyle, in a statement, said that 'the real purpose' of the bill was obviously 'to restrict stem cell research, which holds enormous potential for our state as well as the promise of curing juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and Parkinson's disease'.

To overturn a veto by the Governor, a two-thirds majority is needed in both the State Assembly and Senate. The bill was passed in the House by 59 votes to 38 and in the Senate by 21 votes to 12 - both of the margins fall short of the two thirds majority that would be required.

The veto has been welcomed be ES cell research advocates. On the day the veto was announced, Bill Domansky and Jeff Perzan, of the American Diabetes Association, said that the association 'applauds today's decision... to veto a bill that would set stem cell research in Wisconsin back decades'. The veto announcement came only a week after the Ohio House of Representatives Speaker, Jon Husted, said that a bill in Ohio that would ban human cloning and limiting stem cell research in the state appears to 'be dead' in the state. It has failed to get 'sufficient support among Republicans to pass the bill', said Husted, while Democrats were united in opposing the bill.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
American Diabetes Association Lauds Governor Doyle for Protecting Stem Cell Research in Wisconsin
Press Release from American Diabetes Association |  3 November 2005
Doyle vetoes cloning ban; says it will hurt stem cell research
Duluth Superior |  3 November 2005
Governor Doyle Vetoes Assembly Bill 499 - Bill Would Have Restricted Life-Saving Stem Cell Research
Press Release from Wisconsin Governor |  3 November 2005
Gov. vetoes cloning ban to uphold stem cell research
The Daily Cardinal |  4 November 2005
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