Human embryo bill proposal could affect medical research in Ga.

by: Lori Geary Updated:

Researchers say because the bill is written so vaguely, it could end up hindering cutting-edge medical research happening in Georgia.

ATLANTA - State lawmakers are once again considering a pro-life bill that requires human embryos be used only for reproductive purposes.

Channel 2's Lori Geary was at a hearing Friday where expert medical researchers testified the bill would limit their ability to save lives.

"I think it's important that we protect the life of the human embryo," said state Rep. Jay Neal. R- LaFayette.

Neal told Geary that is the reason behind his controversial bill named the Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act.

He said he wants to ensure that human embryos would only be used for reproductive purposes, but he raised eyebrows at a hearing when he explained his bill also prevents the creation of animal-human hybrids.

World renowned medical researchers appeared to be insulted, testifying that that may happen in the movies but not in ethical medical research.

"Do you have concerns that human embryos are being implanted into animals?" Geary asked Neal.

"Not in Georgia. What we're talking about in this bill is not typically happening in Georgia. It's happening in other areas," he said.

"Then, why is it needed in Georgia?" Geary asked Neal.

"It's not. We just want to make sure it doesn't ever happen in Georgia," he answered.

"I am 100 percent confident that our institutions within Georgia would never permit this type of work," UGA Research Scholar Dr. Steve Stice told Geary.

That's why opponents of the bill, many of them in the biomedical field, say the bill isn't necessary.

They say because it's so vaguely written, it could end up hindering cutting-edge medical research happening in Georgia, the same state that just convinced Baxter International to build a billion-dollar bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing plant near Covington.

"Preventing some of the research that is set out by this bill would ultimately deny children life-saving therapies," Stice said.