Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act: HB 481

Fact Sheet

Biotechnology holds the promise of greatly improving our quality of life.  If not guided by ethical standards, however, it poses serious threats to children at their earliest stages of development, human dignity and innocent human life.  In many ways, it could permanently alter what it means to be human.

HB 481, the Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act, is designed to promote cutting edge biotechnological research, while preventing many of the most unethical and dangerous practices that threaten preborn children.

The bill accomplishes three major objectives:

  • It clearly shows the pro-life community’s willingness to work with the scientific community to support research that respects innocent human life, while promoting cutting edge research.
  • It removes any uncertainty for venture capitalists and companies seeking to invest in biotechnology in Georgia, while establishing a research policy in the state that respects life.
  • It’s compatible with and compliments the Governor’s agenda to promote and attract biotechnical jobs in Georgia.

The bill ensures:

  • The freedom to pursue responsible and ethical research that does not violate basic human rights for our most helpless and vulnerable, especially the right life.
  • The protection of all innocent human life at all stages of development.
  • That the fundamental nature of humanity will not be distorted.

The bill prevents four areas of unethical/threatening/questionable research:

  • The creation of animal/human hybrids (called “chimeras”).
  • Therapeutic cloning.
  • Reproductive cloning.
  • Creating human embryos for research that are ultimately killed.

FAQ

Q.  Are there currently any biotechnical laws or regulations in Georgia?

A.  No. Biotechnology is currently a self-regulated industry.

 

Q.  Governor Deal is working hard to attract biotech companies to Georgia.  Will this bill keep them away?

A.  This bill is designed to remove any uncertainties for venture capitalists and companies interested in setting up a biotechnical company in the state which should act to encourage such business.

 

Q.  Does this bill ban in vitro fertilization?

A.  The intent is not to prevent practices currently used to treat human infertility.  It does ban experiments involving human and non-human gametes (sperm and egg).  It also prohibits donating embryos for scientific research.

 

Q.  If therapeutic cloning research advances medical knowledge, what’s wrong with that?

A.  Creating a human embryo for research always results in the death of a child. Also,   much of the research is designed to harvest embryonic stem cells, which have not cured a single disease.  Adult stem cells have been successfully used in treating more than 70 human illnesses.

 

Q.  Why do you oppose reproductive cloning?

A.  It’s both morally wrong in that it distorts God’s plan for human reproduction anddangerous in that it threatens to weaken the human gene pool. The practice was condemned by President Bill Clinton and the former President’s Council on Bioethics.

 

Q.  Have any humans been successfully cloned?

A.  None that have lived for more than a brief period.

 

Q.  Why do scientists want to create chimeras?

A. Primarily because it’s often difficult to obtain human eggs to create embryos for research.

 

Q. What’s wrong with creating hybrids?

 A.  First, it distorts what it means to be human and frequently kills a living human child.  Second, where will it end?  If successful, we’ll create an endless list of creatures beyond our wildest imagination.

 

Q.  Does this bill allow transplanting animal organs or tissues into humans?

 A. Yes. For example, people can still receive pig heart valves and insulin-producing animal tissues.  Also, researchers will be free to continue efforts to successfully transplant whole animal organs into humans.

 

*For definitions of terms see Biotechnology: An Essential Glossary