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Sen. President Susan Wagle

Sen. President Susan Wagle

Pro-life legislation is broader than just abortion limitations, as the pro-life Kansas Senate demonstrated by passing two measures today: SB 199, establishing an adult stem cell clearinghouse and therapy center, and SB 142, enhancing civil litigation rights for the unborn.

By voice vote Thursday,(UPDATE: final count 33-7) the Senate approved creating a novel and globally important Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas (KU). Before the vote was taken, Senate President, Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) provided a ringing endorsement.

“I am pleased to see this legislation, endorsed completely by KU. My son, Paul, relapsed in 2006 from leukemia after two and a half years of chemotherapy. We tested family members and could not find a match for bone marrow.

“We called Gov. Sam Brownback, who was U.S. Senator at the time, because he had worked for years to promote stem cell research. The governor connected us with a New York doctor doing research trials who had established a cord blood bank. We found a match with a baby in NY and Paul got the [resulting stem cell] treatment in Texas.

When you vote for this bill, you are planting a seed…this is about cures, saving lives and new research. I ask you all to vote for it.”

The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) asked her fellow Senators to consider that, “ everyone has some kind of disease in family that has caused tragedy, our family has Huntington’s Disease.  Kansas needs to be in the forefront to help people.”

Kansas City ethicist at Rockhurst University, Dr. John Morris, had testified in support of the center as a deterrent to the alarming phenomenon of “stem cell tourism” in which suffering Americans are lured abroad – largely via internet– for unproven stem cell applications by unqualified personnel. The proposed center will be located in the Kansas City metro area, and will:

•    treat patients,
•    process and multiply stem cells,
•    create a centrally-located global database,
•    network physicians and scientists, and
•    initiate educational outreach.

In other action Thursday, the Senate passed SB 142, “Civil Rights for the Unborn” by a vote of 34-5-1. SB 142 will ban any so-called “wrongful birth and wrongful life” lawsuits claiming that the child, in essence, is a ‘damage’.  Nine other states statutorily bar wrongful birth suits and ten statutorily bar wrongful life suits.

SB 142 also addresses civil suits brought on behalf of the wrongful death of an unborn child, so that they can be filed on behalf of a child throughout gestation, not just after viability. The unborn child in Kansas since 2007 has enjoyed such protection under criminal law, as the second victim when a pregnant woman is a victim of crime.

Both SB 199 and SB 142 now move to the House for consideration.

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Conferees Dr. DAvid PRentice and KFL's lobbyst,jeanne Gawdun

SB 199 conferees, Dr. David Prentice & KFL lobbyist, Jeanne Gawdun

Kansas Senate committees today worked, and passed out favorably, two pro-life measures.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142 [Civil Rights for the Unborn] and the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee  passed SB 199, to establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Support for SB 199 came from KFL, pointing out that in 2006, despite heavy lobbying to support unproductive and unethical embryonic research, the Kansas legislature made the correct decision to support adult stem cell research by

  • enacting legislation to facilitate the recruitment of entities, and encourage strategic partnerships.
  • budgeting $150,000 to fund a KU adult stem cell research project using umbilical cord blood.

Overall the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee heard support for the novel KU Center from a stem cell patient, four doctors /researchers and a representative of KU. In addition, Rockhurst University ethicist John Morris submitted testimony (read it here) explaining the alarming phenomenon of “stem cell tourism”, in which patients travel abroad to obtain unproven treatments from unqualified personnel.

SB 199 conferee Dr. David Prentice has noted, “the Kansas City metropolitan area has become one of the strategic centers in the nation for life sciences.” Umbilical cord blood research is already being done at KU, using a discovery made at K-State (“Wharton’s Jelly”) so there’s no reason to delay establishing a global center here for stem cell treatment, research, and education. (see past posts here and here)

The Senate Judiciary committee passed SB 142, which was part of the 2012 Pro-Life Protections Act passed 88-31 last year in the House. SB 142 would

  • BAN any “wrongful birth/life” lawsuits claiming that the child, in essence, is a ‘damage’;
  • BROADEN civil suits on behalf of wrongful death of an unborn child to be filed throughout gestation, not just after viability.

TAKE ACTION : Both SB 199 and SB 142 are expected to go to the Senate for votes quite quickly to meet the Friday deadline for action on bills originating in each chamber. To contact your senator about either bill, you may use the roster here.

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