Eyecare Tips

Massachusetts House, Senate Reject Governor's Proposed Changes To Bill Supporting Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

June 20, 2017

The Massachusetts House and Senate on Thursday by "large margins" rejected Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) four proposed changes to a bill... (SB 2039) that would support human embryonic stem cell research in the state, the Boston Globe reports (Greenberger, Boston Globe, 5/20). The Massachusetts House earlier this month approved the bill, which also would allow human cloning for research purposes but ban human cloning for the purpose of reproduction. The measure -- which was approved last month by the state Senate -- would eliminate the requirement that scientists engaged in stem cell research obtain approval from the local district attorney and instead give the state Department of Public Health some regulatory controls over the research. The bill also would establish a 15-member biomedical research advisory council, which would hold public meetings, advise legislators on the research in an annual report and investigate whether women should be compensated for donating their eggs.

Romney Amendments
Rather than vetoing the bill, Romney proposed that the Legislature make four amendments to the measure. One amendment would have banned scientists from cloning human cells. Another amendment would have changed the bill's definition to say life begins at fertilization. The bill currently says that life begins when an embryo is implanted in a woman's uterus, a definition that supports scientists' arguments that creating embryos for research is not experimenting on actual human life because the embryos are not implanted in a woman's uterus. Romney also proposed closing a loophole in the bill that he said would allow laboratory personnel to create embryos for their own research. The measure currently would ban donating embryos for research, but Romney said lab personnel would be able to create their own embryos because they technically would not be donating those embryos to themselves. In addition, Romney proposed further restricting payments for eggs by allowing women who donate to be paid only for direct medical expenses, such as medical care or transportation, and not for their time or discomfort (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 5/13).

House, Senate Reject Amendments
Both the House and Senate rejected all four of Romney's proposed amendments and sent the bill back to the governor in its original form, according to the AP/Boston Globe. Although there was more support for Romney's proposed changes in the House, there still appears to be enough support for the original bill to override a veto, according to the AP/Globe (LeBlanc, AP/Boston Globe, 5/19). According to three unnamed state senators, state Senate President Robert Travaglini (D) initially agreed to adopt the proposed amendment restricting payment for women donating eggs and the amendment that would have banned laboratory personnel from creating embryos for their own research, according to the Globe. However, Travaglini "reversed course" after Romney's chief spokesperson criticized the Senate's budget, according to the Globe. Julie Teer, a Romney spokesperson, said that the governor would veto the bill, adding, "Governor Romney is a strong supporter of stem cell research, but he will veto this particular bill because it contains very serious flaws and crosses very serious ethical boundaries" (Boston Globe, 5/20).

"Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork/dailyreports/repro The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.