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On Friday, March 13, Georgia’s Senate and House both passed bills designed to limit stem cell research and grant embryos the status of full personhood.

SB 169 "The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act" prohibits therapeutic cloning of embryonic stem cells. It's now in House, and at this time is in "second read;" no changes were made during the "first read."

HB 388 "The Option of Adoption" declares every human embryo — in a womb, Petri dish or cryogenic storage — to be a child. It has been "read and referred."

Should they come to the floor and pass (as many expect), they’ll proceed to the desk of Governor Sonny Perdue (Rep), who is sure to sign them into law.

When President Obama liftedfederal restrictionson stem cell research on March 9, reversing the Bush restrictionsof 2001, his Executive Order set the stage for Georgia’s extreme religious groups to push legislation to declare a fertilized egg as a human being with rights that must be protected.

The Republican majority of Georgia's politicians – never ones to miss an opportunity to embarrass themselves – fell in lockstep with the Georgia Christian Coalition’s march to higher courts to define "when life begins." Dan Becker is president of Georgia Right to Life, which went all out to get these bills passed: "We’ve established a beachhead in the 21st century...enough has already been accomplished to declare victory. ...This bill is monumental in that it establishes the adoption of embryos as children for adoption purposes. You donate property, but you adopt persons..." Also sending in the cavalry (à la Prop 8) were [fetus photos warning] Personhood, Christian Newswire, &c.

Within three days of Obama’s announcement, Georgia SB 169 was passed:

SB 169 (as approved):

To... provide that it shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm or intracytoplasmic sperm injection; to provide that there is no prohibition as to the use of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS cells)...

That last amendedment was added at the insistence of supportersof in-vitro fertilizations as well as GBLT+ organizations, which together were a constituency meriting attention.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Preston Smith(R-Rome) wrote the amendment. When asked by Southern Voiceabout gay couples who might not be technically infertile, but cannot have children without a third party, Smith declared that "The bill does not speak to that."

"I think that from the perspective of gay and lesbian families, I’m happy with the changes that were made, but it still effects research," said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.

The last day to advance bills in this legislative session is known as "Crossover Day." After being tabled earlier that day, SB 169 was rescued from table, passed and adopted. Senators voted along straight party lines, with all 34 Republicans casting Yea votes, and all 22 Democrats voting Nay.

The approved version was severely gutted from its original, thank goodness:

... Relating to the parent and child relationship generally, to  To... provide that it shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm; to provide for standards for physicians and facilities performing in vitro sperm or intracytoplasmic sperm injection; to provide that there is no prohibition as to the use of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS - fertilizations; to provide for judicial standards-...cells)...

Deleted articles included such tidbits as:

The in vitro human embryo shall be given an identification by the facility for use within the medical facility. Records shall be maintained that identify the donors associated with the in vitro human embryo, and the confidentiality of such records shall be maintained as required by law.

Meanwhile, the House was passing H.B. 388 (also within three days of Obama’s announcement, which was claimed to be coincidental):

A bill...relating to adoption...to change the definition of "child" to include a human embryo; to provide for definitions; to provide for procedures for embryo adoption; to provide for nonapplicability of certain dependent exemption for income tax purposes...

In typical Republican spirit, the bill specifies that adopted embryos that haven’t been born yet may not be deducted for income tax purposes.

As with the Senate version, the bill was diluted, from the first paragraph on:

...to en act the "Option of Adoption Act"; to define certain terms; to provide that a legal embryo custodian may relinquish rights to an  change the definition of "child" to include a human embryo; to provide for procedures; to provide that a child born as a result of such relinquished embryo shall be the legal child of the recipient; to provide for an expedited order of parentage; to amend the Official Code of Georgia Annotated so as to conform definitions; to provide for provisions and correct cross-references;- procedures for embryo adoption; to provide for nonapplicability of certain dependent exemption for income tax purposes...

And again, votes were on straight party lines, with all 96 Republicans casting Yea votes, and all 66 Democrats voting Nay (10 not voting and 8 excused).

Response from the medical and scientific communities was swift and damning.

Sean Tipton, director of public affairs at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said legislation that would affect stem cell research has been introduced in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina. "It's clearly part of a national strategy and at some point it will probably succeed." Tipton said advocacy groups are targeting states where they have the best chance of success.

And, as noted in Jim Galloway’s Political Insidercolumn:

The state university system and its flagship institution opposed the measure... At the same time, polls consistently show strong public support for the research, which uses donated embryos that would otherwise be discarded.

[Governor] Perdue says the legislation poses no threat to the biotech industry in Georgia, or its future. Many in the business couldn’t disagree more.

Paul Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University, said such measures are "a problematic strategy because when you define an embryo as a person, what they say is: Therefore you cannot destroy them. My response is: Therefore you cannot freeze them. How can you freeze a person and keep them suspended in animation?" He added, "The idea that they can pick and choose which aspect of human life will be relevant is interesting."

Among Atlanta’s distinguished medical and scientific research institutions are:

Georgia State Center for Brain Sciences and Health, Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center, The Shepherd Center, which specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and other neurological conditions.

And, of course, the National Institutes of Health, named specifically in two sections within the Executive Order:

Section 1, paragraph 2:
For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions.  The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.

Section 3:
Sec. 3.  Guidance.  Within 120 days from the date of this order, the Secretary, through the Director of NIH, shall review existing NIH guidance and other widely recognized guidelines on human stem cell research, including provisions establishing appropriate safeguards, and issue new NIH guidance on such research that is consistent with this order.  The Secretary, through NIH, shall review and update such guidance periodically, as appropriate.

Are Georgia's pandering Republicans willing to pass legislation quelching the PO? Stay tuned as developments occur...

[Note: This diary is not an invitation for commentators to rag on Georgia, southerners in general, Civil War re-enactments, rednecks, Deliverance, etc. On request from the many southerners at Daily Kos, please don't condemn the growing spots of blue among the overwhelmingly red state. Thank you.]

Originally posted to sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 03:57 PM PDT.

Poll

I believe the moral beginning of life occurs

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5%3 votes
12%7 votes
46%25 votes
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11%6 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar for what the Republicans fear most: (11+ / 0-)

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 03:58:22 PM PDT

  •  There is no beginning and there is no end. (6+ / 0-)

    Georgia legislators should each be required to adopt all embryos until such time as there are no more available.

  •  You know, for people who hate science... (6+ / 0-)

    they sure do festishize petri dishes and invisible cells, don't they?

    What a bunch of sick motherfuckers.

    Please, President Obama, remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:02:45 PM PDT

  •  Another shot (5+ / 0-)

    at banning abortion -- the law will be deemed unconstitutional.  Of course, I'd love for Georgia to lose all of their university medical and genetic research talent because the legislature are a bunch of Yokels.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. -- Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:12:11 PM PDT

    •  I can't understand why NIH stays here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, TheCid

      Talking about keeping science and politics separate -- NOT. If NIH can't fulfill the EO, I don't know what will happen - any experts out there know if President Obama can override Georgia law?

      Of course, if the NIH moves to another state, it should avoid Alabama, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina.

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:19:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Emory and MCG (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, sboucher, moondance

      both are pretty solid medical schools in their own right. They need to get serious and attack the legislature for trying to supplant scientific research with religious zealotry.

      Purdue's got an agenda here, by the way- between this and some of the other crap he's doing (continuing the sunday alcohol ban against the wishes of both parties) it's obvious he's running to the right to do something with the national party; the question is what.

      •  Oh, absolutely he's got an agenda. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheCid

        He saw the meteoric rise of the Barbie One (or Mr. Steele) and thought, "Hell, I can do that!"

        If nothing else, I believe one of our US senators is up for re-election (can't recall, Isakson or Chambliss?). Perdue wouldn't particularly like to go that route, but will take it if offered.

        I had a section on the alcohol ban, but this diary got too long and I felt I should cut it. Maybe I'll post it back here in a minute - trying to cook while responding takes a careful balance :)

        It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

        by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:32:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isakson is up for re-election. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Love, Burned, sboucher

          Chambliss recently won against Jim Martin.

          Do you ever listen to davefm?  Sully continuously rants about the ban on Sunday liquor sales.

        •  Chambliss won last year, Isakson is up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sboucher

          Not sure if Purdue would go after someone in his own party though; but perhaps Isakson is retiring (which would be odd- he's a freshman senator).

          I just don't see where Purdue is going, unless he's aiming for a Presidential/VP run in 2012 (which wouldn't surprise me)... that's a long time to be out of the spotlight if he is, though.

          •  Thanks for the info on our senators. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TheCid

            Sonny is up to something, and there's only so many places he can go from here. He's going to have to be somewhere until 2012...oh gosh, barfing again at the thought of this ticket:

             title=  title=

            Oh noes, I'm sorry I did that. Really.

            It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

            by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:54:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, if Purdue is running in 2012 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sboucher

              Then there's no way he'd take a Senate seat from a fellow party member for just 2 years. He may go for a House seat though; what district would he be in?

              •  Searching data bases...n/t (0+ / 0-)

                It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:19:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Houston County is in the 8th congressional (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TheCid

                district, now represented by Jim Marshall (D). It's an extremely rural district, and includes, of course, the Go Fish project. OMFG I think you may be onto something here.

                It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:26:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Now that's interesting. (0+ / 0-)

                  Jim Marshall was preceded in his district by none other than the odious Saxby Chambliss himself.

                  On the other hand, Marshall is a blue dog; so losing him wouldn't be a big loss- I'd say that money spent on him would be better spent elsewhere...

                  •  Wow, I think you've got it! (0+ / 0-)

                    It's a disturbing thought that Saxby Leghorn's influence could be pulling Sonny up from the ranks; I suppose it could go either way.

                    That way, he'll have both served as governor of a state that's not unused to having its govs become presidents; plus he'll have experience in the congress, which is more than she had.

                    Okay, let's start laying out brackets for next year's governor and take it from there.

                    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                    by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 07:12:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I think you're reaching too far (0+ / 0-)

                      Saxby Chambliss vacated that seat in 2003. (Moving into a different district, at that.)

                      I don't think that's a connection; just more of a coincidence.

                      The real issue is going to be this question:

                      If Purdue runs for House in 2010, is it really worth spending money on saving a Blue Dog that would be better spent elsewhere? Yes, Purdue losing would likely knock him out of contention for President in 2012, and even without the 2 years in the House he'd still have less time out of politics than, say, Romney.

                      Personally I'm saying no; losing Marshall is better than losing another Dem, and Purdue making a Presidential run in 2012 would be more or less an act of futility on his part as long as Obama does a decent job of things.

                    •  By the way (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      sboucher

                      You should probably write a diary about Purdue in particular if it does come to a run- you probably have a better knowledge of local politics than I.

                      •  I do plan to cover the gubenatorial race (0+ / 0-)

                        (assuming I'm still here!) from my on-the-ground campaign involvement that I tried to use during the Martin run-off. Covering Sonny's stupidities, at this point, are like re-hashed Bushisms. But I totally need help to do them, wink.

                        It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                        by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 08:18:02 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  The problem with that is (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sboucher

                          I don't read the AJC; and only read Creative Loafing+Sunday Paper infrequently. So I'm not as up to date on local politics as I could be.

                          I get my news from Reddit and dKos.

                          •  I read the AJC as often as possible (0+ / 0-)

                            because, through columns like "The Vent," letters the editor, and outright wingnuts like Jim Wooten, I can keep my enemies closer, so to speak. I also get to startle people at the coffee shop by shouting at the newspaper.

                            It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                            by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 08:28:13 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Here's what [didn't] happen re Blue Laws bill (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Love, marykk, TheCid

        Peach Pundit("Fresh Political Pickins From The Peach State")

        In a final note, much to the disappointment of 65% of Georgians, SB 16, a bill which would have allowed communities to vote to allow Sunday sales of alcohol, died without so much as a vote from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee – another victory for the religious right’s crusade to impose their morals on the rest of us.

        ...SB 16, the bill to allow local jurisdictions to decide if local community standards would support local sales of alcohol on Sundays died a coward’s death without receiving a vote in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

        Unlike last week, when the committee failed to meet for lack of a quorum, there were 11 of 13 committee members present when the meeting was gaveled to order. Chairman David Shafer called SB 16 for the first agenda item and announced that Senator Seth Harp would have some final comments on the bill and then there would be a vote. Instead, Senator Harp withdrew the bill, without any advance notice to the committee members.

        It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

        by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:00:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I would hate to see that happen. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sboucher

      It would be devastating to the State and its citizens.

  •  Tennessee too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, sboucher

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:24:31 PM PDT

    •  Aw geese! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk

      I missed that one. I used to live in Memphis; I'm beginning to wonder about myself.

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:27:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I liked the part about (3+ / 0-)

        "owning" an embryo.  Not exactly consistent with a post-reconstruction view of life beginning at fertilization.

        If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

        by marykk on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:35:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's well worth going to the earliest version: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tropical Depression

          Here's another tidbit that was deleted:

          19-8-41.
          (a) A legal embryo custodian may relinquish all rights and responsibilities for an embryo to a recipient intended parent prior to embryo transfer. A written contract shall be entered into between each legal embryo custodian and each recipient intended parent prior to embryo transfer for the legal transfer of rights to an embryo and to any child that may result from the embryo transfer. The contract shall be signed by each legal embryo custodian for such embryo and by each recipient intended parent in the presence of a notary public and a witness. Initials or other designations may be used if the parties desire anonymity. The contract may include a written waiver by the legal embryo custodian of notice and service in any legal adoption or other parentage proceeding which may follow.

          Sure seems to me they're talking about embryos as commodities. But I'm not a lawyer, doctor or scientist, so what would I know?

          It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

          by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 04:41:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  When the mother.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    in consultation with her doctor says it does...

    Obama - Real Leadership for a Real Change

    by dvogel001 on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:17:17 PM PDT

  •  Great... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, karenc13, sboucher

    now NJ can get all of GA's stem cell research money...more $$$ for Blue States...high paying jobs in stem cell research I believe too and not outsourced...

    Obama - Real Leadership for a Real Change

    by dvogel001 on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:18:09 PM PDT

  •  Fine. CA and NY and MA can do all the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    research and make all the money and those poor-ass states can stay the poor-ass states they are. And my kid will take the science jobs from their creationist kids.

    •  And all those people who are against research (0+ / 0-)

      shouldn't benefit from its outcome.

      Unfortunately, while our kids are doing all the science (oh how I love Bill Nye!), the creationist kids are doing all the politicking.

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:52:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clearly life begins when... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind, sboucher

    the man says to the woman, "Honey, are you awake?"

    As for the "child" frozen in the dish, guess there would have to be a murder investigation if the embryo became non-viable.  

    Fundamentalists need black/white, either/or situations. They can't deal with gradients.

    •  We need to institute a Spit Take Rule (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mayfly

      so that a certain someone doesn't spit milk out its nose and onto the keyboard and/or monitor, particularly having had a septumology done fairly recently.

      So much of the original presentations was cut precisely because of such black/white thinking.

      If a couple of in vitro embryos are implanted, but only one takes, would the uterus, doctor, lab techs, nurse be held for murder for the ones that didn't? Would a miscarriage be grounds for a murder case?

      You put your religious-right-pandering in, you put your religious-right-pandering out, put your religious-right-pandering in, and you shake it all about...

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:01:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  clinic bankruptcy => mass murder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, sboucher

    If a clinic goes bankrupt, the power goes out, and the embryos thaw and become unviable, who gets charged with murder?

    Every fertility place in the state will shut down within a year.

    "Not dead ... yet. Still have ... things to do." -Liet Kynes

    by Stranded Wind on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 05:55:00 PM PDT

    •  See, the clinics can't go bankrupt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mayfly, Stranded Wind

      because all the people with embryos there will have to pay for storage, forever and ever. It didn't detail what would happen if the parents both died.

      There are all kinds of acts of nature or mankind - blackouts, floods, wildfires &c. - that would bring this to its judicial knees. That doesn't matter in the GA government, who are clearly pandering to the radical right wing nuts.

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:08:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Was it Barney Frank (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    who said under Ronald Reagan, life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    •  I'll have to look that up... n/t (0+ / 0-)

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:33:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Got it! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irmaly, marykk

      ...Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) who first made the excellent, bitter and terribly unfair joke about conservatives who believe in a right to life that begins at conception and ends at birth.

      This joke has been adapted for use against various Republican politicians ever since. In the case of President Bush, though, it appears to be literally true.

      WaPo

      Thing is, I can't track down the original quote, only lots of attributions, so I don't know when either. It was a real bone tossed to the MSM, who quoted it out of context as "Barney Frank believes that begins at conception and ends at birth!"

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 07:01:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  maybe the people with embryos would withdraw them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    and then what?  Would the "parents" have to account for each embryo? Hello, Octo-Mom?

    •  In fact, this was called "the Octomom bill" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk

      when they first began drafting, and was clearly done in response to her. How do you assign a name or number to every embryo? "The one on the left, that's Michael."

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Fri Mar 27, 2009 at 06:47:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "err on the side of life" (0+ / 0-)

    is a favorite of the anti-choice groups, but what does it mean?  They should at least be honest and clarify it as "Err on the side of embryonic life only. Everyone already born can just go to hell."

    Your grievance shall be avenged.

    by GenuineRisk on Sun Mar 29, 2009 at 01:36:29 PM PDT

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