After hours of oftentimes emotional debate, the Iowa House Thursday night voted to legalize cloning human embryos for stem cell medical research. The bill passed on a 52 to 46 vote, with every Republican voting against it.
Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, was among those who argued the research creates a human life, and that’s wrong. "It’s a taking of life — taking of life — to maybe, maybe preserve life," Heaton said. "I don’t think the Bible gives us the right to make that trade."
Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars, said such research creates a human life in a petri dish. "When (those) cells start growing, that is a human being," Soderberg said. "It’s very wrong to, in five to seven days, dispose of that living being."
But advocates like Representative Lisa Heddens, a Democrat from Ames, said life-saving cures are at stake and the research is promising. "Embryonic stem cell research is currently being done in Iowa," Heddens said. "Unfortunately, none of this basic research can be applied to patients in terms of treatments and therapies and that is what this bill is all about."
Heddens said lawmakers were making a "clear choice" about whether Iowa-based researchers would be able to join in the search for "cutting-edge" treatments and therapies.
Representative Carmine Boal, a Republican from Ankeny, said she, too, hopes diseases such as Alzheimer’s can be cured through research, but she’s not willing to go as far as cloning in the lab. "My perfect end would be that my mother would be cured of Alzheimer’s…that I could have her back again," Boal said. "But the means of what we’re talking about here tonight are just not acceptable."
Other critics warned the bill puts the state on the slippery slope toward cloning a human. Heddens, the bill’s chief advocate, responded to that. "The bill…prohibits human reproductive cloning," Heddons said. "We are all opposed to human reproductive cloning and this bill makes it quite clear that we are keeping the ban on human reproductive cloning."
The bill cleared the Iowa Senate last week and Governor Chet Culver has repeatedly said he’ll sign the bill into law.