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Current State Laws Against Human Embryo Research

 

Harmful experimentation on embryos is a felony in some states

Some members of Congress think that researchers should be able to obtain and destroy live human embryos for federally funded stem cell research. But such destruction of embryos for research seems to be illegal (regardless of its source of funding) in nine states. Therefore proposals for federal funding would force many taxpayers to approve destructive cell harvesting that is a felony in their home state.

Louisiana

Louisiana's law recognizes a human embryo outside the womb as a "juridical person," and prohibits the destruction of a viable fertilized ovum. La. Rev. Stat. tit. 9, §§ 123, 129 (West 2000). It further states: "The use of a human ovum fertilized in vitro is solely for the support and contribution of the complete development of human in utero implantation. No in vitro fertilized human ovum will be farmed or cultured solely for research purposes or any other purposes." §122.

Maine

Maine's law prohibits the "use [of]...any live human fetus, whether intrauterine or extrauterine...for scientific experimentation or for any form of experimentation." Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22 § 1593 (West 1992). A legal analysis commissioned by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission concluded that this law "ban[s] research on in vitro embryos altogether." NBAC, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, vol. II, pages A-4, A-10.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts law prohibits "use [of] any live human fetus whether before or after expulsion from its mother's womb, for scientific, laboratory, research or other kind of experimentation." Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 112 §12 J (a) I (West 1996). The section goes on to define "fetus" as including "an embryo." Ch. 112 §12 (J) (a) IV.

Michigan

Michigan's law provides that "[a] person shall not use a live human embryo...for nontherapeutic research if...the research substantially jeopardizes the life or health of the embryo..." Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.2685 (1) (West 1992). Performing such experimentation is a felony. §333.2691.

Minnesota

Minnesota's law prohibits using or permitting the use of "a living human conceptus for any type of scientific, laboratory research or other experimentation except to protect the life or health of the conceptus..." Min. Stat. § 145.422 (West 1998). "Human conceptus" means "any human organism, conceived either in the human body or produced in an artificial environment other than the human body, from fertilization through the first 265 days thereafter." §145.421.

North Dakota

North Dakota law provides: "A person may not use any live human fetus, whether before or after expulsion from its mother's womb, for scientific, laboratory, research, or other kind of experimentation." N.D. Cent. Code § 14-02.2-01(1) (Michie 1997). A legal analysis commissioned by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission concluded that this law "would ban embryo stem cell research using either IVF embryos or aborted conceptuses." NBAC, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, vol. II, page A-4.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's law prohibits "knowingly perform[ing] any type of nontherapeutic experimentation or nontherapeutic medical procedure... upon any unborn child..." Pa. Cons. Stat. tit 18. § 3216 (a) (West 2000). Performing such experimentation is a felony. Id. "Unborn child" means "an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth." §3203.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island prohibits the use of "any live human fetus, whether before or after expulsion from its mother's womb, for scientific, laboratory research, or other kind of experimentation." R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-54-1(a) (Michie 2000). A legal analysis commissioned by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission concluded that this law "ban[s] research on in vitro embryos altogether." NBAC, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, vol. II, pages A-4, A-10.

South Dakota

Under a South Dakota law enacted in 2000, it is a crime to "conduct nontherapeutic research that destroys a human embryo," or to "conduct nontherapeutic research that subjects a human embryo to substantial risk of injury or death." S.D. Codified Laws §§ 34-14-16, 34-14-17 (Michie Supp. 2001). It is also unlawful to "use for research purposes cells or tissues that [a] person knows were obtained" by doing such harm to embryos. § 34-14-18. "Human embryo" means a living organism of the species Homo sapiens at the earliest stages of development (including the single-celled stage) that is not located in a woman's body." §34-14-20. Thus this law bans not only the destruction of the embryo to obtain stem cells (regardless of the source of funding), but also research using the resulting cells (regardless of whether the cells were harvested in that state or elsewhere). 



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