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Sponsors Amend Fetal Tissue Bill, Allowing Limited Research

Ban Would Apply To Fetuses Aborted After 2014

Shawn Johnson/WPR

A Republican proposal that would make it a felony to sell, donate, or experiment with fetal body parts has been amended by its authors in an effort to address the concerns of researchers.

At a public hearing last month on the bill, researchers from medical schools and a biotech trade group said the bill would limit important work on cells derived from aborted fetal tissue. Such work produced the polio vaccine and is currently used in cancer and other health research.

The new amendment would allow researchers to use fetal tissue from abortions that occurred before January 2015.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison’s vice chancellor for research and graduate education, Marsha Mailick, said she “appreciates legislators recognizing the value of existing cell lines,” but said their timeline “would close the door on countless treatments and puts the state’s biomedical industry at a tremendous disadvantage.”

The bill authored by Reps. Andre Jacque and Joel Kleefisch outlaws the sale of aborted tissue or organs — something that is already banned under federal law. It’s expected to get a committee vote next week.

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