The battle over stem cell research gets underway today at the statehouse when senators begin pouring over proposed legislation dealing with the issue. Governor Chet Culver has called on lawmakers to repeal a ban on a type of cloning that he says restricts stem cell research.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says Democrats are ready to act. "We’re looking to rewrite that section of law," Gronstal says. "We are going to continue to keep the ban on human cloning in place so this bill will not allow human cloning but it will allow research and it will allow the treatment that have diseases like Parkinson’s or diabetes or spinal chord injuries."
But Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says Republicans are worried the change will open the door to research in Iowa that would lead to human cloning. "You can veil it in a lot of scientific information and you can cloud it in a lot of rhetoric, but if you look at the process (the bill calls for) the removal of the ban on human cloning," Lundby says. "…I just think Iowans are going to draw the line at the process of human cloning."
Gronstal says the legislation will not allow human cloning in Iowa. Gronstal also says current law is so restrictive that advances connected to research using human embryos will not be allowed in Iowa. "I think it’s important to point out it isn’t just a ban on the research, it’s a ban on treatment in the state of Iowa using those kinds of technologies," Gronstal says.