Ohio bill to ban human cloning draws fire from stem cell researchers

2:50 pm by | 6 Comments

Sen. Steve Buehrer

An Ohio senator has reintroduced legislation stem cell researchers had hoped would never again see the light of day: a cloning ban some in the medical industry fear will hurt innovation in the state.

If you think you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you have–a similar drama played out during the  2007-2008 legislative session after the same senator introduced a similar bill. That bill never made it to a vote. However, a research ban inserted into other legislation was vetoed by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008.

Sen. Steve Buehrer, a Republican from Delta in Northwest Ohio, is the man behind both bills. The latest proposal, Senate Bill 243, would ban human cloning, “human-animal hybrids,” as well as transferring a nonhuman embryo into a human womb and vice versa.


“The idea is to ban some of these perverse and immoral activities that masquerade as scientific research,” Buehrer said.

Anyone who violates the law would be subject to a maximum of five years in prison, plus a monetary fine that would take effect if the offender reaped any financial gain from the activities the bill would outlaw. Buehrer stressed that the bill wouldn’t affect research  on adult stem cells.

Even though the bill’s text doesn’t contain the words “stem cells,” researchers in the field say if the legislation passed, it would harm the state’s ability to attract grants and top-notch biomedical researchers.

“Trying to ban everything because there’s cloning in the title doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’re trying to grow the state’s bioscience industry,” said  Debra Grega, executive director of the The Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Grega pointed out a recent report from economic development group BioOhio that showed 18 percent job growth in the state’s bioscience industry between 2000 and 2008. The figure is all the more impressive when compared with an overall 4.2 percent decline in the number of jobs in Ohio over that same period.

Grega drew a distinction between reproductive cloning–creating humans–and therapeutic cloning, which is done for research purposes and can lead to breakthroughs in treating diseases. She said the bill was written too broadly and fails to reflect that distinction. “Everyone agrees no one should  be doing reproductive cloning,” she said.

While Buehrer would no doubt raise a glass to that sentiment, he also opposes therapeutic cloning that involves human embryos. It’s an open question as to how much of what the bill seeks to ban actually happens in Ohio. However, Grega said that due to the bill’s “broad language,” it “would likely impact the work of a number of researchers here and throughout the state.”

Fifteen states have laws pertaining to human cloning, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

It’s unclear whether Buehrer’s proposal stands a better chance of  becoming  law  this time around. But with Democrats in control of the House and the governor’s mansion, don’t bet on it.

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Brandon Glenn

By Brandon Glenn MedCity News

Brandon Glenn is the Ohio bureau chief for MedCity News.
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I think cloning is wrong, but, we need to research it more and find out what we can really do with science before we make huge assuptions.


I would sell my soul to have a clone of myself to replace my failing ageing body. Why can't we have spare cloned doubled to replace body parts we need? It is only flesh anyway.


I dont think that people are seeing the big picture here. cloning whether it is theraputic, or whether it is full body cloning can only lead to one thing, a degeneration of the human race. the actual real moral way of concieving a human, not in some rediculous test tube, thats not real. yeah im sure that it could help. some areas but the costs outway the benifits. because there are no benefits.... There is only one way to be on this planet, and thats to be concieved the right way, from human to human, thats the way God intended it to be, he never intended for people to start making duplicates of themselves. and yeah the obvious question comes up about getting new and improved and healthier humans to be made..... but there has been diseases on the planet since the very first years in the bible. and it will be like that and it sould stay like that.. because the only way it all comes out to is that people are wanting to play God.


This law will ban a certain drug that millions of people in Ohio use everyday. I know what it is, do you?


I think the article misses a key point in making a distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Although both procedures are often discussed independently, they both refer to the *same* process of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (check the wikipedia page if you need a science brush up). The distinction in terminology simply refers to how the cloned organism- whether a human, animal, or some hybrid- is being used after the cloning procedure. Many of those that object to cloning do so not simply because of the more commonly objectionable end usages ( ie allowing people to clone themselves for a genetic twin child) but they also the object to fundamental process- somatic cell nuclear transfer- because 1) its low success rate causes the loss of newly created embryos, which they consider the destruction of new human lives (along the same logic, therapeutic cloning is equally objectionable), and 2) the process forgoes the natural process of creating human life. Although you may not agree with these objections, I always think its important to understand the other side of the issue. And to separate the science from politically motivated or popular media terms (theraputic vs reproductive cloning) that cloud the issue at hand.

Barbara Hanson
Barbara Hanson

This is what can happen when politicians play scientist. Senator Buehrer needs to take a quick course in the difference between therapuetic and reproductive cloning before his bill leads to a real setback for Ohio. I hope the citizens of Ohio wake up to his mistake and stop this from happening.