07 Nov Doyle vetoes cloning ban
Madison, Wis. – Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday his veto of AB 499, which would have outlawed all forms of human cloning in Wisconsin.
The bill would outlaw not only cloning for reproductive purposes but also what proponents call therapeutic or research cloning, in which an embryo is created with identical DNA as an original subject for the purposes of harvesting stem cells during the first several days of development. The embryo is destroyed in the process.
Penalties for violating the bill if it were to become law would increase to up to 10 years in prison and $1 million in fines. It is unlikely to become law, however, as its 21-12 margin in the Senate and 59-38 margin in the Assembly were both short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor’s veto.
“This bill sends the wrong signal to the nation about Wisconsin,” Doyle said in his veto message, citing the importance of stem-cell research to the state’s national profile and biotechnology sector, which generates $6.9 billion in annual income.
“Wisconsin should continue to recruit and welcome the nation’s best scientists, not treat them like criminals,” Doyle added.
Backers of the bill, however, reject Doyle’s stance as overly alarmist.
“A research institution of the quality and the size of the University of Wisconsin is not going away, and is not moving,” said state Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, adding that there is an opportunity for UW-Madison to keep its position as a leader in scientific research while still recognizing ethical concerns.
“We have to be very cognizant of what we have when we’re done here,” Kanavas said. “And if people don’t believe that the methods through which these products are created are done ethically, they’re not going to use those products.”
Opponents of the bill nevertheless feel there is a real danger for the state’s research community if the bill were to become law.
“It’s all in perception,” said Andrew Cohn, government and public relations manager of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Cohn said that while this branch research is not currently being conducted in Wisconsin, there are scientists who feel there is potential use of it for overcoming tissue rejection issues, and the state should remain open to them.
“We are trying to attract scientists, we’re trying to attract companies and we’re trying to attract venture capital,” Cohn added. “Why would any of those people come here if they knew that the work they may want to do to move stem-cell science forward was going to make them a felon?”