Oklahoma proposes protections for one-celled human embryos

by Will Hall, |

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House has passed legislation designed to prevent embryonic stem cell research in the state, protecting "a living organism of the species Homo sapiens at the earliest stages of development, including the single-celled stage, that is not located in the body of a female."

The bill submitted by Republican Rep. Dan Fisher of El Reno, Oklahoma, was passed 80-13 and now will be considered by the state Senate.

Similar measures have been proposed before but failed to make it to law.

Fisher also proposed the Protection of Human Life Act of 2013 to prohibit the destruction of human embryos for research as well as prevent research on cells that were obtained from the destruction of a human embryo. That bill failed in the Oklahoma Senate in 2014.

At that time he told the Associated Press, "For me, and I believe for the majority of Oklahomans, the real question is about life."

"When does life begin? I believe it begins at conception," said Fisher, who also is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, Oklahoma.

The Protection of Human Life Act of 2015 makes research on human embryos "unlawful" unless it is intended to "help preserve the life and health of the particular embryo subjected to risk."

The measure makes exception for adult stem cell extraction, in vitro fertilization, and diagnostics which contribute to the "future care of a child subjected to the tests," but prohibits any procedure that destroys a human embryo or substantially imperils it to injury or death.