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Researchers, Industry Groups Add To Chorus Against Fetal Tissue Bill

Republican-Backed Measure Has Support From Abortion Critics

Shawn Johnson/WPR

Opposition is growing to a bill that could effectively ban the use of fetal tissue in research in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Technology Council has passed a resolution against legislation because they say it would ban or severely limit research that involves fetal tissue and cells. Council Executive Director Tom Still said the bill could put Wisconsin at competitive disadvantage.

“With a vibrant life sciences industry in Wisconsin that has worked in this area for generations, to reverse course now would send an unhealthy signal to companies hoping to do business in Wisconsin, as well as researchers who are hoping to move here,” Still said.

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Fetal tissue research led to the development of the polio vaccine, and is currently being used in treatments for cancer and heart disease.

It’s already against federal law to sell human fetal tissue. Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque’s bill, as currently written, would also criminalize its use. Jacque has said he will offer an amendment to address researchers concerns.

The bill also faced criticism from nearly 700 University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty who signed a letter to the editor of the state’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, opposing the measure.

Other registered opponents of the bill include science industry association BioForward, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The bill has support from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and other groups opposing abortion.

The chair of the Assembly Criminal Justice and Safety Committee, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, said lawmakers on the committee will vote on the bill Sept. 9.