UPDATE: Assembly bill would prohibit research using fetal cells - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Assembly bill would prohibit research using fetal cells, tissue


MADISON (WKOW) -- Late last week, Rep. Andre Jacque introduced his third piece of legislation this session to restrict abortion-related activities.  But this time he has raised the ire of some in the business community.

That's because Rep. Jacque's latest bill would outlaw the use of aborted fetal materials in scientific research.

Rep. Jacque believes there is no legitimate reason to use aborted fetal tissue in any research or experiments.  But people who are in the bio-tech industry say that's not realistic.
And if there is one industry far outpacing the others in Wisconsin, its bio-tech.

"We were five percent ahead in job growth during the recession, while the state was six-and-a-half percent behind," said Bryan Renk, Executive Director of BioForward, a lead advocacy group for the bio-tech industry in Wisconsin.

Renk says researchers with bio-tech firms and the University of Wisconsin worry jobs would start leaving the state if Assembly Bill 224 becomes law.

"The only thing that is prohibited under this legislation is the tissue that specifically comes from a child who is aborted," said Rep. Jacque, who believes that would affect only a small number of research projects.

But Renk says stem cell lines that come from aborted fetal tissue are used by dozens of Wisconsin research firms, because they are well-established, with some being used since the 1970s. 

Madison-based FluGen Inc. is one such company that uses a fetal stem cell line called HEK 293, which is derived from embryonic kidney cells in human fetal tissue.  FluGen is using HEK 293 in its development of a universal flu vaccine.

"If this language goes through in the State of Wisconsin, then all of a sudden you're a criminal for helping with influenza on an annual basis because you use that cell line?  That's the really chilling part," said Renk.

FluGen Inc. is owned by Paul Radspinner, who also sits on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

27 News was unable to talk with Radspinner on Monday, but Renk says FluGen could not continue its research if the legislature passes AB 224.

"They would have to shut down," said Renk.

Rep. Jacque doesn't believe his bill would force any businesses to shut down or leave the state.

"I don't think so.  I think if they would, then that certainly speaks very poorly as to their respect for ethical standards," said Rep. Jacque.

Jacque, which has two other abortion-related bills up for a vote in the Assembly Committee on Health this week, has yet to get a public hearing scheduled for AB 224.  But Jacque says he is hopeful the bill will gain traction, after a similar version of it died in 2011.


MADISON (WKOW) -- A bill aimed at outlawing the use of fetal body parts in research and experiments is causing a lot of concern within Wisconsin's bio-tech industry.

Assembly Bill 224, authored by Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere), defines fetal body parts as "a cell, tissue, organ, or other part of, or any material derived from any cell or tissue of, an unborn child who is aborted by an induced abortion."

Bryan Renk, Executive Director of the leading Wisconsin bio-tech advocacy group "BioForward", tells 27 News the effects of the law would be devastating to dozens of research companies in the state.  Renk says the use of fetal stem cell lines is widespread throughout the industry and that some companies would likely be forced to leave Wisconsin if the bill becomes law.

UW-Madison's Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center would also be negatively impacted by AB 224.

Rep. Jacque cites the fact that at least five other states, including Ohio and Illinois, have laws with similar language on the books.

Rep. Jacque introduced the same language as AB 214 in 2011, but that bill failed to get out of committee.

This is the third bill Rep. Jacque has introduced in the past two weeks to put further restrictions on abortion-related activities in the state. 

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.


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