Michigan Senate Bans Already Illegal Fetal Tissue Sales

Screencap from YouTube

Selling fetal tissue is already illegal in the state of Michigan. Senators took it a step further, by voting Wednesday to pass a bill that makes it a felony to pay for the distribution or transportation of any part of an embryo. This includes delivering fetal tissues to medical research laboratories.

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-Saint Clair, is the bill’s sponsor and on the slate for this year’s Congressional post. He says that the bill is meant to reinforce Michigan’s ban on the sale of any part of any human organ – a law that has been in place since 1978.

“We’re just making sure that Michigan people understand that it’s against the law here,” Pavlov reiterates. “I think there will be more of this type of legislation coming up.”

Democrats disagree with the move however, decrying it as an obvious political move by someone who wants to run for higher office. Senator Coleman Young, D-Detroit, says, “I understand that this is congressional politics and that people have ambitions, but we cannot pass laws that are already illegal to advance that goal. This is throwing a bone to the Right to Life movement. This is pure politics in its rawest form.”

Federal law has banned the sale of fetal tissue since 2011. While Michigan already made it illegal to ban the sale and transfer of fetal tissue and of any part of a human organ since 1978, this new bill is more specific. It mentions fetal tissue obtained through abortion, a felony punishable by 5 years in prison.

The bill passed on a 26-10 vote.

Medical researchers are not happy with the move on the basis that it will harm research into curing diseases from rabies to Ebola, and could set back current studies. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also looking to challenge the bill on the grounds that it might prevent women who have had abortions for medical reasons to have the fetal tissue tested for further pregnancy complications.

Pavlov said that he tried to word the bill in a way that would appease researchers, but that an agreement had not been reached. “The promising research they’re referencing hasn’t produced any true cures yet,” he adds.

Democrats attempted to amend the bill, changing the language that makes it a felony to move fetal tissue to medical research facilities, allow women to purchase birth control in 12-month bundles to prevent abortions and provide thorough, age-appropriate sex education in schools. All the amendments failed, however.

The bills, SB 564 and 565, now move forward to the House for discussion and consideration.

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