No, this isn’t from The Onion. It’s a REAL bill that has been introduced by Republicans in the Oklahoma Senate. Introduced by Republican Ralph Shortey, Senate bill 1418 makes it illegal to make or sell food or other products that contain human fetuses, including in research and development. Republicans introduced the bill after a Christian Right anti-abortion group claimed that several major food companies are using embryonic stem cells to enhance the flavor of their products. The allegations never got off the ground and the accused companies have flatly denied doing such a thing. That’s because it’s not only unethical to use stem cells in such a manner, it’s also illegal under US law (and disgusting). Yet Oklahoma Republicans, eager to please pro-life groups, are moving forward with their bill which just so happens to have a few additional benefits for stem cell research opponents.
Here is the text of the bill which can be found on the Oklahoma Legislature website:
“STATE OF OKLAHOMA
2nd Session of the 53rd Legislature (2012)
SENATE BILL 1418 By: Ralph Shortey
An Act relating to food; prohibiting the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 1-1150 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2012”
Obviously I completely support making it illegal to make or sell food that contains human fetuses if such a thing even exists (it doesn’t). But if you read the bill and think about it for a minute, it also covertly outlaws stem cell research and stem cell products used for medicinal purposes that could one day cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease among many other ailments. Depending on the source, stem cell treatments could fall under a ‘product that contains aborted human fetuses.’ You “consume” medicine in the same sense that you “consume” food; it enters the body and is processed in some fashion. Whether it is used for energy or to heal a damaged brain is irrelevant to this law.
The Republicans in Oklahoma are attempting to outlaw stem cell research and treatments under the guise of forbidding the use of fetuses in food. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of any instance where a human fetus was used as an ingredient in food. This is kind of similar to the bevy of voter ID laws being passed by Republicans in states across the country that disenfranchise Democratic voter bases under the guise of fighting non-existent voter fraud. It’s all about fighting some non-existent action that seemingly only happens in the minds of Republicans.
It’s clear that Republicans are looking to trap Democrats with this bill. On the one hand, if Democrats vote in favor of the bill, Republicans will have succeeded in banning embryonic stem cell research and treatments. On the other hand, if Democrats vote against it, Republicans will accuse Democrats of wanting to eat fetuses. It’s a classic Republican tactic. Don’t get me wrong. I support banning using fetuses as food, but I oppose any attempt to ban stem cell research that could save millions of lives from being ruined by incurable diseases. Republicans mostly take issue with embryonic stem cell research which involves the use the embryos created using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Many embryos are generated to enhance the success rate. The leftover embryos are either stored, slated for destruction, or are donated for research such as stem cell research. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. These embryos are donated and are stored so long that they are no longer viable so why not use them for research instead of wasting them by destroying them? It makes sense to me. So at the very least, Republicans should change the language in the bill. At any rate, shouldn’t Republicans be focusing on other things, like the economy and jobs and health care, and things that actually matter to people who are already born?