Legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives yesterday failed to pass Senate Bill 80 that would authorize embryonic stem-cell research. Instead, they passed a severely reduced version of the bill, which removed all reference to human embryonic stem-cell research and the destruction of frozen in-vitro fertilization embryos.
The amendments also clarify the definition of "human reproductive cloning" to clearly ban any cloning that results in a human fetus or child for any purposes, and to close a loophole that would have allowed fetal farming.
According to sponsors, SB 80 was based on HR 810, Mike Castle’s bill now in the US Senate.
Several supporters, including sponsor Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, said the bill’s references to embryonic stem-cell research were removed because of a powerful lobbying and advertising campaign that opposed the bill.
A multifaith grassroots effort, called A Rose & a Prayer, has been referenced as one of these. More than 2,400 Delawareans signed up for a total of more than 1,500 hours of prayer in opposition to SB 80. The campaign was supported by many Christian leaders, including Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington.
Also as part of the campaign, state legislators last week received 1,500 roses with cards from individual voters asking them to vote against the bill. In addition, over 10,000 Delawareans contacted their representatives asking them to vote against the bill.
"We hope that other states will recognize Delaware’s decision to refuse to authorize embryonic stem cell research as an indication that Americans do not want or need research that destroys human embryos," said attorney Stephen Jenkins, was part of A Rose & a Prayer. "Rather, we need research that focuses on adult stem cells, where scientists are increasingly finding real cures."