The Delaware House during a public hearing on Wednesday heard arguments from about 80 supporters and opponents of a bill (SB 80) that would prohibit human cloning for reproductive purposes and the sale of human embryos but allow cloning for research purposes, the Wilmington News Journal reports (Ratnayake/Jackson, Wilmington News Journal, 1/5). The bill -- which is sponsored by state Sen. Robert Venables (D) and state Rep. Deborah Hudson (R) and was approved by the state Senate in June 2005 -- would allow human embryonic stem cell research to be conducted using embryos that otherwise would be discarded from fertility clinics -- as long as the individuals seeking treatment at the clinics give their written consent. The measure would not provide funding for human embryonic stem cell research (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/10/05). State lawmakers agreed at the end of last session to hold the hearing for public comment in advance of a scheduled Jan. 12 vote on the measure, according to the News Journal (Wilmington News Journal, 1/5). "I think there were a couple of my colleagues that did not understand the scope of what we are doing," Hudson said, adding, "Now they realize this is an oversight bill and not a bill that allows someone to do something that wasn't being done before." David Weir, director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, said that the bill would only allow research to be done on embryos created during in vitro fertilization that normally would be thrown away as medical waste, adding that there is no allowance for the creation of embryos solely for research purposes. Weir added, "Under Senate Bill 80, a couple going through the in vitro process that would rather have their unused embryos donated to research instead of having the embryos destroyed as medical waste would be permitted to do so" (Rogalsky, Delaware State News, 1/5). Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) has indicated she will sign the bill if the state House passes it Jan. 12 (Wilmington News Journal, 1/5).

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