Chambers of horrors

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The Oklahoma House voted Tuesday to prohibit state government funding for the destruction of embryos for the purpose of stem cell research in the state. (The legislation does nothing to hinder the many other forms of stem cell research -- marrow, cord blood, various forms of adult tissue -- which do not require the destruction of a human life.)

SB 315 passed by a wide bipartisan majority of 85-13. The version passed by the House now goes back to the Senate for final approval. If a business is involved in "nontherapeutic research that destroys a human embryo or subjects a human embryo to substantial risk of injury or death," that business does not qualify for any Oklahoma income tax credits or incentive payments. The bill prevents tax dollars from directly or indirectly funding the destruction of human life.

The 13 naysayers were Auffet, Brown, Cox, Hoskin, Kiesel, McAffrey, McDaniel (Jeannie), Nations, Renegar, Roan, Scott, Shelton, and Smithson. Christian, McPeak, and Morrissette were excused from the vote. Everyone else voted yes.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber and the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying Gov. Brad Henry to veto any such legislation when it reaches him. In response, pro-life legislators boycotted a legislative event hosted by the two chambers.

State Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa) said today, "The idea that Oklahoma should condone the destruction of innocent human life in the name of 'economic development' is indefensible. Our law clearly states that human life begins at conception. Now the chambers are advocating the destruction of a legally recognized life in exchange for research dollars, saying the state should determine the best use of a person's life for the state's purposes. That's a huge paradigm shift that runs contrary to the basic values of our nation."

I'm happy that pro-life legislators are voicing their objections to the Chambers' crass and callous stand on this issue.

But if you're a Chamber member, and you oppose the destruction of innocent human life for the sake of economic development, you need to take a stand, too. You need to e-mail Gov. Henry, tell him to sign the bill, and tell him that your Chamber of Commerce doesn't speak for you on this issue.

Then you need to make some calls and do some legwork to find out who authorized your Chamber to speak on this issue. Find out when the board voted on it, which board members voted which way, then make your displeasure known to the executive director (Mike Neal here in Tulsa) and the pro-killing members of the board.

Finally, the pro-life majority on the Tulsa City Council should refuse to continue to give millions in city tax dollars to an organization that advocates using tax dollars to kill people for profit. The Council has the power to end the City's exclusive deal with the Tulsa Metro Chamber for economic development and convention and tourism promotion. Put the contract up for bids in a full and open competition and use our City hotel tax dollars to hire a more competent outfit -- that needed to happen anyway.

Here is the full statement from Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa):

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers of commerce support for embryonic stem cell research, which requires the killing of human embryos, will damage Oklahoma 's reputation as a state that values life, state Rep. Pam Peterson said today.

"The chambers' support of embryonic stem cell research as an 'economic growth' tool is a shocking violation of the public trust and basic moral values," said Peterson, R-Tulsa. "The chamber is effectively advocating the worst kind of discrimination based on age, size and place of residence."

In the past week, both chambers have urged Gov. Brad Henry to veto legislation that would make embryonic stem cell research illegal in Oklahoma . Both groups argue the ban will hinder economic development, be an embarrassment for the state and make it hard to attract "researchers."

"The idea that Oklahoma should condone the destruction of innocent human life in the name of 'economic development' is indefensible," Peterson said. "Our law clearly states that human life begins at conception. Now the chambers are advocating the destruction of a legally recognized life in exchange for research dollars, saying the state should determine the best use of a person's life for the state's purposes. That's a huge paradigm shift that runs contrary to the basic values of our nation."

The ban was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the state House and Senate.

Even as they have worked to outlaw embryonic stem cell research, state lawmakers have also voted to provide millions for adult stem cell research. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, adult stem cell research does not require the destruction of human embryos.

Adult stem cell research also has a proven track record of results - there are more than 70 research treatments that use adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cell research has been plagued with failure.

"If the chambers were serious about economic development and growing Oklahoma 's biotech industries, they would only support research with a proven track record requiring no moral compromise - our adult stem cell plan," Peterson said. "It's clear that these organizations care more about catering favor from radical groups than improving our economy."

As a result of the chamber's call for vetoing the embryonic stem cell ban, Peterson and other pro-life lawmakers will not attend a legislative event tonight jointly hosted by the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers.

MORE: HB 1326, which has similar language, was passed by large majorities in both houses last week (82-6 in the House, 38-9 in the Senate) and is on the governor's desk. This morning, State Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) called on pro-life business owners to express their support of this legislation:

State Senator Randy Brogdon called on the Pro-Life members of the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce to join with him in support of HB 1326, which outlaws embryonic stem cell research.

"It's simple," said Brogdon. "HB 1326 says that we won't let Oklahoma businesses profit from the destruction of human life."

Brogdon, a co-author of HB 1326, continued, "And it's a travesty that the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chamber leadership are more concerned about profit than the protection of human life."

"And I'm sure if the Pro-Life members of the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Chamber knew what HB 1326 entailed, they would not be happy knowing that their leadership was lobbying for Governor Henry to veto this bill," said Brogdon.

"That's why I am calling on the Pro-Life business owners of the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce to join with me in support of this bill and call on their leadership to halt their lobbying against this Pro-Life legislation," said Brogdon.

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W. said:

What's crass and callous is advocating a policy that would throw away almost all embryos at fertility clinics, instead of using some of them for research or treatment that could save lives.

You do realize that the number of frozen embryos far outnumber those who want to adopt them, yes?

So what's the problem with using the embryos that would ordinarily be discarded anyway and perhaps finding use for them?

(Unless, of course, you want to ban fertility clinics wholesale, which would create a whole new set of problems.)

Roy said:

I copied the following from an email sent me:

Governor Henry has until the end of the day on Wednesday (April 22) to decide whether to sign or veto pro-life HB 1326. This bill prohibits the killing of human embryos for research purposes. Here are the phone numbers for the Governor's office:

(405) 521-2342 Oklahoma City

(918) 581-2801 (Tulsa Office)

moogle Author Profile Page said:

Conservatives could be making some headway fighting issues such as the normalization of illegitimacy and moral abiguity if conservatives could ever bring themselves to argue on the basis of proven statistics and social fact instead of finger waving and pounding on the Bible. The empirical data strongly support much of the conservative social agenda with no need to fog things up by busting open a big can of religion. Dan Quayle didn't need religion to be right about Murphy Brown.

Arbitrarily defining a fertilized egg as a "person" is an entirely religious thing. If people do not share your religious convictions, then they don't, and they are not going to. Some religions believe in reincarnation. You don't, and there is no way you will be convinced otherwise.

When you base your social agenda on religion, then you are at a disadvantage to those who base their arguments on fact, even if those facts are dubious or deliberate distortions. If you use politics to impose your religion, then you are likely to generate resentment and cause people to be unreceptive to all of your social agenda. Eventually, you will lose it all. That has been spectacularly demonstrated in the last four months as the conservative social agenda has been completely disrupted, the latest setback making Plan B available over-the-counter to minors. (Note how the proponents of the change based their arguments on "science" -- dubious science, but that trumps religion.)

This whole embryonic thing is a non-issue, political posturing. There are social issues of vastly greater consequence to contest (and are now being lost). People will allow and probably support some religious influence. But by burning up credibility by constantly pursuing the religious extreme, you increase the probability of being dismissed as the Republican equivalent of a dipweed tree hugger.

moogle, it is a scientific fact that the fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm creates a new genetically distinct human life. It is also a scientific fact that all therapeutic uses of stem cells use non-embryonic sources such as skin cells, fat cells, cord blood, and bone marrow. Government funding for embyronic stem cell research is not about science; it's about a pushing a "religious" agenda -- devaluing human life as a commodity to be exploited for profit.

moogle Author Profile Page said:

Most of the population has the brains to recognize the abuse of the term "human life". It is also true that a single skin cell is "human life". But it isn't a person.

Selecting hot-button, emotional words is a well known trick of politics. In this case, the choice of words is so obviously disingenuous that few are fooled by it. Consequently, you damage conservative credibility on all social issues. Even when a conservative social position has factual evidence to support it, liberals can successfully argue that the conservative position is just more religious extremism cloaked in phony language.

If you are going to abuse language to achieve a political end and get away with it, you need to be smarter.

A single skin cell is human, but it is not a distinct living being. An human embryo is human, and it is alive -- capable of growth, development, and ultimately reproduction.

I'm familiar with the idea of redefining "person" to exclude those one wishes to enslave or destroy to serve one's own needs. Our nation fought two bloody wars and waged a long Cold War to defeat that kind of ideology.

I will put up with a lot of criticism, and I am happy for people to debate issues, but I won't let someone use my own bandwidth to accuse me of being disingenuous. That's an insult, and it's the kind of attack makes debate and discussion impossible. Get your own blog. Unless you're willing to apologize and agree to refrain from such attacks in the future, you'll be banned from commenting here.

Fred Hatcher said:

I am 64 yrs old and have CAD. Two blocked heart arteries. Fully blocked. Doctors cant and wont insert a stent, and cant have a bypass surgery, do to my CKD chronic kidney disease. Therefore, stem cells are my only salvation, and that means going to Germany and spending $15,000. Check this website: This site explains that they withdraw a persons own bone marrow cells and re-inject them ( after a period of time ) back into the heart via heart catheter. This causes a quick response where a person can walk and function at least 60% better. This procedure is illegal in Oklahoma due to the ban on research and stem cell procedures. I dont have the money to go to Germany, and by the time the procedure is approved in Oklahoma, I could be dead. I am in favor of right to life. I am against abortions. I am a Catholic. Politics is killing me.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 22, 2009 12:43 AM.

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