South Dakota Legislature Considers Repeal of Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

South Dakota Legislature Considers Repeal of Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research


A bill to remove South Dakota’s restrictions against embryonic stem cell research was introduced yesterday in the state senate.

SB 195 would strike from SDCL 34-14 the language prohibiting human embryos from being used for research.  The bill was sponsored by Senators Nesselhuf, Adelstein, Nelson, and Turbak Berry and Representatives Engels, Blake, Cutler, Dreyer, Hoffman, Hunhoff (Bernie), McLaughlin, and Street. 

We knew this was coming for some time now. Last summer the Argus Leader ran an article about Sanford Health in Sioux Falls under the heading “Sanford eyes stem cell study.”

In that article we read

A new donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford will give Sanford Health greater access to embryonic stem cell research, a process that the system’s chief executive, Kelby Krabbenhoft, has expressed an interest in pursuing.

T. Denny Sanford says he will help the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine come up with matching funds for a planned $115 million stem cell research center in La Jolla, Calif. Sanford hasn’t said how much he plans to give. The donation has not been formally announced. But the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this month that an “out-of-state philanthropist,” whom the consortium has declined to identify, has pledged $30 million, with $10 million paid up-front and the remainder in $2 million annual installments.

A subheading in that article gave us the real thrust of the article: “Ban might limit ability to attract leading scientists to state

That’s what we hear frequently when someone wants to advance some pseudo-scientific pursuit that pushes or clearly steps beyond moral boundaries: we’re missing opportunities to get smart people (and big dollars) to come to South Dakota because of our “antiquated” laws and sensibilities.

As is often the case, those “antiquated” laws are there for a reason.

Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of innocent human life for the pursuit of unproven medical cures. Human embryos must be destroyed in order to perform the required research.

However, this destruction of human life is being done without a single success to lend credibility to the pursuit. While adult stem cell therapy (more on that in a minute) has produced about 80 successful therapies, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single cure.

What’s more, embryonic stem cell research done to date has not been promising for another reason: rejection. Unlike adult stem cell therapies that come from a patients own cells, embryonic stem cells come from another person (the dead human embryo). Just as organ transplants have to deal with the body’s automatic rejection of the foreign tissue, so embryonic stem cells tend to be rejected by the patients body.

Embryonic stem cells also have a tendency to cause tumors in the recipient. This is not a good tradeoff: even if a workable therapy can be developed, and even if a patient can get past the rejection factor, they could get a tumor in exchange for anything the therapy might cure.

Adult stem cell therapy, on the other hand, uses stem cells from a healthy part of the adult patients own body. Adult stem cells can be harvested from body fat, dental tissue, nasal tissue, testicular tissue and other locations. This eliminates the necessity for the destruction of innocent human life, and also overcomes the tissue rejection factor. Also, tumors are not a factor as with embryonic stem cell transplants.

Currently there are dozens of cures and therapies from adult stem cell research, including treatments for meningitis-related limb damage, brain injury, stroke, retina regeneration, heart tissue regenerationanginadiabetes, bone cancer, nerve regeneration, cerebral palsy, cartilage regeneration, Parkinsons, kidney damage, liver cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis,  and leukemia. The number of successful therapies is somewhere around 80.  

I had the pleasure of meeting a recipient of adult stem cell therapy a few months ago.  

Carol Franz before adult stem cell therapy

Carol Franz before adult stem cell therapy

I met Carol Franz last September at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C.  A friend and I were hopping into the elevator at the Washington Hilton when she got in with us.

Right away I noticed the “Survivor: Adult Stem Cell Transplant” shirt she was wearing.  I told her that I have been following the stem cell research debate for a number of years and have written about it many times.  I asked her about her story and she told me a little during our elevator ride and as we walked down the hall.  She told me I could use anything I’d like from her website in any future articles.   

Carol is a two-time survivor of multiple myeloma cancer, a blood cancer.  Both times adult stem cell therapy has brought her back from the brink.

This is an excerpt from her story on her website:

May 2003 I was hospitalized in Syracuse University Hospital. I was given a massive dose of chemo that lasted 15 minutes. I lay in my sterile room for 5 days for the chemo to leave my body and then I was given my adult stem cells back through the catheter in my chest. This procedure only lasted 15 minutes. I was hospitalized for 3 weeks and monitored constantly to be sure my blood and organs were alright. I was “reborn” on May 20, 2003. The adult stem cells traveled to the core of my bones and begun growing me a new immune system and blood. About 6 weeks later the catheter was removed. I took medicines for a few months to help me recover with the transplant.

Carol Franz after adult stem cell therapy

Carol Franz after adult stem cell therapy

Two months after my adult stem cell transplant I was feeling “normal” and began taking long walks, dancing and traveling. For one year I had dietary restrictions and was told to avoid crowds, infectious people, small children, pets, earth, plants or anything that may have the ability to make me ill. Six months after the transplant my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes were back to normal except for the color of my hair. 

As you can see from these before and after pictures of Carol–which she also displays on the business card she gave me–adult stem cell therapy has made a tremendous difference in her life.  She told me that she was not far from death when she received her first round of therapy.  Now, she’s healthy, vibrant and energetic. 

She is a living testimony to the wonderful success adult stem cell therapy is already enjoying.  

Chris Hupke, Executive Director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, is concerned about SB 195 and the damage it could do.  

“A lot of people have worked over the years to give us good legislation with regard to embryonic stem cell research,” said Hupke.  “This would gut everything.”

“We don’t know just where this is coming from, but there was talk in the Argus Leader several months ago about Sanford Health and embryonic stem cell research,” said Hupke.  “The article pointed out that South Dakota’s existing laws would be an obstacle to embryonic stem cell research.”  

Hupke also stated: “There hasn’t been one medical cure from embryonic stem cell research.”  

Science indicates that the human embryo has human DNA from the moment of conception; not generic DNA, not plant DNA, not fish DNA, but human DNA.

Science indicates that this human DNA is unique, unlike that of any other human being on earth–including the mother and father from which it came.  If the human embryo has DNA separate and distinct from mother and father and any other human being, then scientifically it is not a part of another human being’s body and thus something they have a right to dispose of as they please.   

Science indicates this human embryo with unique human DNA has all the genetic information it will ever need for the rest of its life; it is genetically complete. All that remains is developmental time, which will not be complete until adulthood.

According to what science tells us, the human embryo is a separate and distinct, unique and genetically complete human being. 

No one can argue that working toward medical cures is a noble pursuit.  Human life is sacred, created in the image of God, and everything possible should be done to preserve innocent human life.

But we cannot abandon our humanity in the effort to save human life.  The destruction of innocent human life is too high a price to pay for medical advances.  After World War II, the Allies shied away from medical information gained by the Nazis during their ghastly experiments on human beings.

Thankfully, we don’t have to abandon our efforts to save human life through stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapy is already producing dozens of cures for all sorts of illnesses. 

South Dakota: we don’t need to sell our souls on an altar of empty promises and financial gain. Let’s stick with the principles that make our state a wholesome place to live.

19 Responses to “South Dakota Legislature Considers Repeal of Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research”

  1. Great Article. If only every news source presented the facts so clearly. thank you for your willingness to not depart from the truth regardless of whether it is politically expedient or not.

  2. The problem I have with this, Bob, is how you collect your “facts.” You come in with a bias for or against something. Then you look for any piece of evidence that supports your previous bias and dismiss any contrary evidence as “lies.” And then you repeat your “facts” as often as you can hoping no one will notice how weak they are. That's not scientific at all, it's just trying to turn your opinion into “facts.” I've seen you do this with tons of issues.

    And you throw out “facts” like “embryonic stem cell research causes tumors” without giving any explaination as to why. You do that to build up a case again embryonic research because, once again, you're biased. The reason ES cells can cause tumors is if you inject them into a person's body without having them go through a process of differentiation. Without that process, the ES cells will turn into a random types of cells (the wrong type for that place in the body). That's why scientists are researching how to differetiate them propperly to stop that from happening. But you don't want them to complete that research because it will prove your “facts” are wrong.

    You also like to play up how adult stem cells have led to more cures than ES cells. You don't seem to mention that adult stem cells have been used for 40 years while research with ES cells began in the 90's and a lot of research was halted with President Bush's ban in 2001. So of course ES cells haven't led to as many cures, because it's still being researched. But that doesn't mean ES cells won't lead to cures, even though you wrongly believe they won't.

    I'm so glad the era of biased “facts” is over now that Obama is president. Now we can get back to making real scientific discoveries.

  3. For a “fact-based” article, you seem to have left out the fact that GWB let religion and politics get the upper hand over science. No cures yet from stemcell? Of course not! Do the research & find out what happened to the lines. It would have been far superior to have continued on with the research and THEN we could have seen if something came from it, but you don't get to spout off acting like this stemcell research has been going on, full throttle, and came up with nothing! How disingenuous. Moreover, Europe is now steaming ahead while we try to jump start this therapy. Once again, we are left in the dust.
    We need to try all the therapies we can. What will work for some patients will not work in others, Let's give everybody a fighting chance with stemcell if it fits their disease–all those except the ones who choose to stand on religious principles, that is. They can follow their conscience to the graves (literally), while hopefully me and mine find cures, or at least relief.

  4. Kathy, you said “Europe is now steaming ahead.” Have they come up with any embryonic stem cell cures? I didn't think so.

    That should tell us something about wasting our time and money–and squandering our humanity–on such an endeavor here in the States.

    This is not about “science” (the science clearly tells us this is a dead-end, while science is already demonstrating that adult stem cell research holds multiple cures); it is about an agenda from the culture of death.

  5. “The problem I have with this, Bob, is how you collect your “facts.” You come in with a bias for or against something. Then you look for any piece of evidence that supports your previous bias and dismiss any contrary evidence as “lies.” And then you repeat your “facts” as often as you can hoping no one will notice how weak they are. That's not scientific at all, it's just trying to turn your opinion into “facts.” I've seen you do this with tons of issues.”

    That pretty much sums up the evangelical mindset. Very well said!

  6. The problem I have with your comment, Haggs, is that no matter how much information, Christian or scientific, is presented to you, you remain doggedly faithful to the liberal party line.

    I think the acute denial of the scientific evidence speaks for itself, so I don't think I need to elaborate on that. But the religious denial is in a way even more puzzling. You claim to be a Christian, and while I can't know your heart, I have to wonder about that since you so consistently and unwaveringly embrace practically every public policy that is condemned as immoral in the Bible. If I defended the things you do, consistently coming down on the opposite side from God's values, I would prayerfully ask myself why I seem to advocate things that do not produce life and usually end in suffering and/or death.

    You also object to my statement (which is easily verifiable if you took the time) that embryonic stem cell therapy produces tumors without “any explanation as to why.” Do you expect a full scientific and medical research paper presented every time I discuss any topic like this…or are you too lazy to do any investigation of your own? Or is that simply a convenient objection to protect yourself from the implications of the information presented?

    You said, “But you don't want them to complete that research because it will prove your 'facts' are wrong.” Once again, you're acting in typical liberal fashion, behaving as “I want” and “someday” and “maybe” and “I hope” are in fact established reality. They are not, just as the problem of tumors with embryonic stem cell research remains a problem–regardless of what you or I wish. There would still be profound ethical and practical reasons to reject this destructive line of research even if the problem of tumors was overcome, but you can't even seem to grapple with what is in a single facet of this issue.

    On the same line of your complaint about “any explanation as to why,” do you bellyache and whine when the Argus Leader, NY Times or other publication throws out something without the slightest bit of evidence to back it–something with huge gaps and omissions in the information, as they regularly do? Or is that okay, as long as the claim is a liberal one? A fully documented research paper complete with footnotes and bibliography seems to be required only when the conclusion differs from your liberal worldview–and even then it would be summarily ignored.

    Embryonic stem cell research has NOT been banned. Forcing taxpayers to cough up their hard-earned dollars to pay for the destruction of human life was banned under the Bush administration. Private funding for this ghastly, inhuman “research” has continued in the meantime. And as another commenter noted, this research has proceeded in other countries that don't share our respect for human life. Yet results are pathetically absent.

    I cannot fathom why some people are so eager and zealous to destroy human life. It just continues to stun me, even though I have seen it going on for years. Especially in a case such as this one, where a non-destructive line of research is ALREADY producing results.

    I can only come up with one explanation: a spiritual one. Evil seeks to destroy human life because it is created in the image of God. There doesn't have to be any rhyme or reason behind the destruction, and there doesn't have to be any logic or reason; simply destroying it is sufficient. I think that like never before in human history we are seeing the bare face of evil revealed: the destruction of innocent human life in defiance of all logic, reason and justification.

  7. I understand your concern; however you are incorrect about the origin of the embryonic stem cells and the results have come from studying them.

    Human embryonic stem cell lines were created from human embryos that were produced by in vitro fertilization for clinical purposes, They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body.

    They were donated by individuals after informed consent and after institutional review board approval. The embryos used to create the lines were excess embryos that were not needed and were going to be discarded. They were classified as medical waste at that point.

    Ask yourself the question. If you went in for in vitro fertilization and had excess embryos after completing the process, would you want those excess embryos to be merely thrown in the trash or used to potentially help cure someone and improve the human condition?

    There are currently 21 human embryonic stem cell lines that are approved for use in the United States. Federal law requires that any such line 1) must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes; 2) The embryo was no longer needed for these purposes; 3) Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo; and 4) No financial inducements were provided for donation of the embryo.

    I have been a medical scientist for most of my adult life and have personally conducted and been involved with using animal embryonic stem cells to treat traumatic brain injury and neurological disorders and have observed many successes.

    In animal models of traumatic brain injury, our embryonic stem cell transplantion therapy resulted in return of normal motor skills and moderate cognitive function. Current research is underway in my lab to improve recovery in acute cases as well as extending these approaches to chronic neurodegenerative disease.

    There are certainly issues to overcome with embryonic stem cells such as the tumor potential. And adult stem cells have potential as therapy, but they are not thought to have the same magnitude of potential as their embryonic counterparts. However the only way we can address these tissues is to study them in scientific detail.

    While there is no approved cure yet using embryonic stem cells, they hold great promise for treating a number of disorders, and I see no problem in using in vitro fertilization-derived stem cells that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste.

    Stephen Hall, Ph.D.
    Sioux Falls, SD

  8. Dr. Hall, do you think these human embryos were conjured up in an act of laboratory magic? These embryos came from the same place every human embryo comes from: male and female DNA that if uninterrupted will become a human being.

    It is unfortunate that these already-existing human beings were experimented on for in vitro fertilization in the first place. Now the consequences are human beings created that nobody wants. Well, some people don't want. Some people are in the process of attempting to adopt unwanted human embryos and allow them to develop and be born.

    And it is no secret that embryonic stem cell research proponents want to use not only existing lines, but create new embryos for experimentation. This is totally reprehensible.

    Experimenting on human life–experimentation that we know will destroy that human life, is ghastly and should not not be done.

    We go down a terrible path when we use human beings as research objects. We must not surrender our humanity on the altar of science–especially when other non-destructive science is far more promising.

  9. Bob,

    If one looks back at our medical achievements, many medical successes have been made because of human and/or animal experimentation. In fact every clinical trial we conduct is really using humans as experimental models.

    What about a clinical trial involving kids where they have little say and their fate is left to the adults? They did not give their direct consent just as the embryos did not give theirs. Would you propose to ban all clinical trials?

    If you have heart disease or diabetes and are taking a new drug, which is the only thing keeping you alive only to later find out that its development somehow involved human embryonic stem cell research, would you stop taking it and die?

    To me this is not a political or religious issue. It is a logical issue. I think that every decision should be made based on what a reasonable and prudent person would do.

    I think putting strict guidelines in place for the use of existing human embryonic stem cell lines only is a reasonable and prudent way to proceed. These lines are here and let us see what good we can do with them.


  10. Animals aren't human beings, Dr. Hall. Surely you understand the difference.

    And insinuating clinical trials and experimental medical treatments are the same as destroying innocent human life is disingenuous and deceptive. At the end of a clinical trial or new medical treatment, you usually still have a living human being. At the end of embryonic stem cell research, you have a dead human being. And creating human embryos specifically for the purpose of destroying them in stem cell research is even more horrific.

    And to answer your question, no, I would not take a drug developed by destroying human life. And I'm not alone in that conviction, either.

    You are right that this should be a logical issue, though the moral and religious aspect should not be denied (without it, we could quickly make the Nazis look like choir boys). Logically, adult stem cell research is (1) already working, (2) doesn't involve the destruction of innocent human life, (3) doesn't have rejection issues, and (4) doesn't have problems with tumors.

    It defies logic to so vehemently pursue embryonic stem cell research when adult stem cell research has so much going for it…in addition to defying our very humanity by cheapening human life and reducing it to a commodity.

  11. Well, Bob, I understand your points and will accept that we don't agree on most areas of embryonic stem cell research. Thanks for your time in responding.


  12. You just love to question my faith, Bob. You assume you know more than God just because of my political opinions. You like to assume that my love of Christ is some how less than yours because of your conservative ideology. Well, I have the same problem with you. There have been times when I've questioned your faith, even though I know I shouldn't. There have been times I've seen you write something on this blog that I thought was very evil, almost Hell-worthy. But that's between you and God. I have to assume that you have Jesus in your heart just like I do. So, whether you like it or not, we'll greet each other up in Heaven someday and probably have a laugh about all of this.

    And I know I'm not perfect. Conservatives have really been making me mad lately with their stupidity. When I get to Heaven, God's probably going to have a long talk with me about that.

    Back to the issue at hand: I did do research into why embryonic stem cells cause tumors, and I even put the reason in my post. But I don't think you care about that. I think you just like to point out that it can cause tumors because it helps you prove your point that we shouldn't use those cells to find cures. You don't seem to care that this research could help stop some human suffering because that's what your ideology is telling you.

    And I'm glad that adult stem cells have lead to cures and treatments. I think we should continue to work with them to see what else they'll be able to cure. But I think it would be irresponsible of us to just assume no cures or treatments will come from embryonic stem cells. How will we know that if we don't do any research? Why do you think Nancy Reagan supports embryonic stem cell research?

  13. I don't love to question your faith, Haggs. I find it very unpleasant. People who call on the name of Christ should be able to stand united in pursuit of obedience to Christ and defending his truth. Christ's most fervent prayer was that we be united.

    But you torpedo that unity when you loudly and publicly declare greater allegiance to the dark, destructive “wisdom” of fallen human beings over God's truth. God's truth can have no unity with error, immorality and sin. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

    I am a Christian before I am a conservative. I am a conservative because I am a Christian. Because conservative values are close to and spring from Christian values and philosophy.

    You SHOULD question my faith if I act in ways contrary to the teaching of the Bible. You SHOULD question my faith if I espouse values and practices in contradiction to the Bible. (Matthew 3:8, Matthew 7:15-20, John 14:15, John 14:24, 2 Corinthians 13:5, Ephesians 5:9, Ephesians 5:11)

    God says that we will know true followers of Christ and teachers of the truth by their fruits, their works; fruit contrary to God's Biblical values are obviously not the fruits of Christ. God warns us about “wolves in sheeps clothing” and false teachers; these folks come in the name of Christ but teach values antithetical to those of God. We are to be on guard against such false teaching, and those who don't know better should be warned away from it.

    You have fallen deep, deep into error, my friend. You have chosen to believe ideas antithetical to everything God teaches. These ideas spring from the “wisdom” of sinful human beings who don't know God's truth and don't care to know it. These ideas deny the truth about the fallen nature of man, the truth about why Christ had to die to redeem us, and the truth about the very acts of right and wrong themselves.

    One of those lies is that it is okay to destroy human life, as long as we can find an excuse to obscure our recognition of that human life. “It's a fetus.” “It's not viable.” “It's not fully developed.” “Nobody wants it anyway.” “She has no quality of life anyway.” And so on. The fact remains that under every measure of science, from conception to natural death, we're talking about human beings. Under the laws and reasoning of man every human being is entitled to rights and protections, the most basic of which is LIFE. And the follower of Christ understands that this human life is created in the very image of God, and as such is sacred. The genuine follower of Christ also acknowledges that God recognizes the identity, value and worth of this human being from conception on, even in the womb (or where ever this human being may be), until natural death and beyond.

    We do not–under the laws and reason of man, nor under the law of God–have the slightest right to destroy innocent human life–regardless of what cures could come on the blood and deaths of others. Period.

    (And Nancy Reagan is pretty flaky. Even being the widow of Ronald Reagan can't change or excuse that).

  14. Stem cells in an organism of the adult person are developed by a bone brain. It is their basic source, but it is far not the unique. Also stem cells are found out and in a fatty fabric, a skin, muscles, a liver, lungs, an eye retina, practically in all bodies and organism fabrics. They provide restoration of the damaged sites of bodies and fabrics.

  15. Stem cells in an organism of the adult person are developed by a bone brain. It is their basic source, but it is far not the unique. Also stem cells are found out and in a fatty fabric, a skin, muscles, a liver, lungs, an eye retina, practically in all bodies and organism fabrics. They provide restoration of the damaged sites of bodies and fabrics.

  16. Stem cells in an organism of the adult person are developed by a bone brain. It is their basic source, but it is far not the unique. Also stem cells are found out and in a fatty fabric, a skin, muscles, a liver, lungs, an eye retina, practically in all bodies and organism fabrics. They provide restoration of the damaged sites of bodies and fabrics.

  17. Stem cells in an organism of the adult person are developed by a bone brain. It is their basic source, but it is far not the unique. Also stem cells are found out and in a fatty fabric, a skin, muscles, a liver, lungs, an eye retina, practically in all bodies and organism fabrics. They provide restoration of the damaged sites of bodies and fabrics.