New Jersey Expected to Pass Bill in Support of Stem Cell Research
While far-right extremists are pushing the US Congress to approve legislation banning all types of cloning, the New Jersey legislature is expected to pass a bill in support of the therapeutic cloning needed for stem cell research. Much like a law in California, the New Jersey legislation is largely symbolic but could send a powerful message in the face of federal restrictions, supporters say.
Although stem cell research is legal in the US, President Bush has limited federal funding to six-dozen existing stem cell lines. Scientists have said that these restrictions have severely thwarted research on embryonic stem cells that could hold the key to cures for such degenerative diseases as Parkinson’s, neural injuries and diabetes. Anti-abortion groups and the Catholic Church are pushing for an across-the-board federal ban on all research.
Introduced in September, the New Jersey bill has already passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the state Assembly soon. New Jersey Governor James McGreevey has voiced support for the bill. As is already the case in California, the law would mandate that couples in New Jersey undergoing in-virto fertilization be told that they can donate any unused embryos to research, according to the New York Times.
The law is also expected to draw scientists to New Jersey laboratories. “We saw scientists leave the country,” Michael Manganiello, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research told the Times. “Then when California passed the bill, people went there.”
Meanwhile, on the federal level, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) could introduce a bill as early as tomorrow that would allow therapeutic cloning research but would outlaw cloning for reproductive purposes. While a ban on both types of cloning passed the House of Representatives last year, a similar bill stalled in the Senate. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), who introduced the total ban in last year’s Senate, is reticent to introduce the same legislation in the new Congress. “We’ve pressed hard quickly in the past, but we haven’t gotten the Senate to move,” Brownback told the Wichita Eagle. “What we’re trying to do this time is see if we can get broader consensus.”
Media Resources: Financial Times 1/14/03; Wichita Eagle 1/13/03; New York Times 1/11/03
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .