A measure which if passed will ban all forms of embryo cloning in the state of Ohio, including SCNT or so-called 'therapeutic cloning', is currently being debated by the Ohio Senate Judiciary Civil Justice Committee. The Committee has not yet voted on Senate Bill 174 and is still hearing representations from both pro and anti-cloning groups and individuals in a highly emotive debate.
The Bill was proposed by Senator Stephen Buehrer last May and is based on a moral proposition to protect human life from scientific research. Senator Buehrer said he could not support 'therapeutic cloning' for it ultimately involved the destruction of an embryo for scientific purposes, even if these purposes were also medical. 'There ought to be some ethical boundaries to what we allow to happen in our communities, whether that happens behind the facade of science or not', he said.
Pro-life groups, such as the Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, testified to the Civil Justice Committee against cloning. Speaking to pro-life site LifeNews.com, director Paula Westwood was not confident that the Bill would be approved, however, saying that 'it is likely that the Committee's strategy is to drag the testimony out until session is over and the bill would then die with no record of votes'.
Others believe that Ohio's research community needs to be able to compete with other states that have adopted a liberal approach to embryo research. Dr Arnold Strauss, medical director at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said that while he opposes cloning technology on the face of it, he recognised how the current ban hinders Ohio's scientists in exploring treatments for diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and other conditions. 'We are all against human reproductive cloning, creating a human 'Dolly,' the cloned and short-lived sheep made in England some years ago,' he said, making a distinction between an embryo's use in therapeutic cloning and for reproductive purposes. 'Generating patient-specific stem cells, that is, human cells that contain those genetic mistakes, in a Petri dish is not cloning of a human,' he added.
Paula Westwood disagreed, maintaining that both techniques shared the same purpose of creating an embryo for research. In Cincinnati's The Enquirer she said, 'This claim is an attempt to disguise support for what is in reality clone-and-kill technology (misnamed "therapeutic") to create cloned human embryos for experimental research - such as to remove embryonic stem cells - after which the embryos die or are destroyed.'
Strauss reported that biosciences is the fastest growing industry in Ohio generating 15,000 jobs in the city of Cincinnati alone and said that to prohibit all forms of cloning would send the message 'that Ohio is a hostile environment for productive biomedical research'.