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Embryo Research & Fertility Clinic Transparency Act

S.B. 647 Sen. Tom George / H.B. 5131 Rep. Richard LeBlanc
S.B. 648 Sen. Mark Jansen / H.B. 5132 Rep. Eileen Kowall
S.B. 649 Sen. Roger Kahn / H.B. 5133 Rep. Jeff Mayes
S.B. 650 Sen. Dennis Olshove / H.B. 5134 Rep. Joel Sheltrown
S.B. 651 Sen. Jud Gilbert / H.B. 5130 Rep. Arlan Meekhof
S.B. 652 Sen. James Barcia / H.B. 5129 Rep. Wayne Schmidt

Current Status
S.B. 647-652 passed the Senate on April 21, 2010 with a vote of 25-12. The bills moved to the House and were referred to the House Health Policy Committee. The RLM legislative office is working with House leaders to advance the bills.

Description
The citizens of Michigan voted to amend the state constitution to allow “leftover” embryos in fertility clinics to be donated for destructive research, with their parent's consent. The amendment comes with no definitions, no accountability, and no penalties for violating the provisions set forth. This package of bills draws clear parameters around this research as promised by the proponents and voted on by the people.

S.B. 647 - H.B. 5131 Embryo Research Transparency Act clarifies and codifies the new amendment into law. The statute which prohibits destructive research on embryos remains in effect; however, Proposal 2 effectively carves out a certain group of embryos to be eligible for destructive research. These embryos must meet the following requirements: created specifically for fertility purposes, in “excess” of fertility treatment need, and donated by the parents for stem cell research. Embryos determined “not suitable for implantation” and otherwise would be disposed of may also be used for stem cell research. The embryos must not exceed 14 days of growth to qualify. The parents may donate their embryos voluntarily with written informed consent.

This legislation specifically allows the extraction of embryonic stem cells only. Any other experimentation on live human embryos that may be harmful remains prohibited. Researchers engaging in the legal destruction of human embryos are required to file an annual report with the Department of Community Health. If a public or private research facility fails to file the report, they may be ordered to pay a civil fine of $5,000 or more.

Human embryos may not be bought or sold or used as an incentive for “valuable consideration.” No one can create human embryos for the sole purpose of conducting research on them. The production of human-animal hybrids for research or any other purpose is also prohibited.

S.B. 648 - H.B. 5132 Sentencing Guidelines – Penalty for unlawfully creating embryos for research and for disclosing patient identifying information on required embryo researcher reports.

S.B. 649 - H.B. 5133 IVF Clinic Informed Consent and Reporting requires couples to provide, in writing, informed consent to any services provided. The clinic personnel must inform the couple concerning the option to intentionally extract excess eggs or produce excess embryos for future implantations, as well as discuss the parents' preference for the number of embryos to be created. The couple must be made aware of the costs of freezing and storing additional eggs and embryos for future use, the dangers involved in the freezing and thawing process, and the current success rate of implantation, pregnancy and births with fresh embryos verses thawed embryos. They must be informed that buying or selling embryos is prohibited.

This bill also requires providers of IVF services to collect data on their activities regarding eggs and embryos produced, and report to the Department on an annual basis. The embryos produced must be accounted for, including how many are implanted (successfully or not), frozen, stored, donated (including to which research facility) and disposed of. The Department would compile the information and produce an annual report.

S.B. 650 - H.B. 5134 Sentencing Guidelines - Penalty for unlawfully disclosing patient identifying information on required IVF clinic reports.

S.B. 651 - H.B. 5130 Prohibits Cloned Human Embryo Trafficking into the state. The law prohibiting human cloning is still intact. However, this bill is necessary to preempt any possible loopholes which may have allowed cloned embryos to be created elsewhere and then trafficked into the state. This amends the existing ban on human cloning to also ban the transporting of cloned embryos into the state.

S.B. 652 - H.B. 5129 Sentencing Guidelines - Penalty for trafficking human cloned embryos of 10 years and/or a fine of $10 million.

Background
Beginning in 2005 proponents of embryo destructive research introduced legislation to overturn Michigan's long-standing laws protecting embryos, the latest being H.B. 4616-18 in 2007. Due to lobbying efforts by prolife citizens, the bills were never brought to a vote and died in committee. The proponents gathered enough signatures to place the proposal on the November 2008 ballot. Proposal 2 was passed 52% - 48% and is now Article 1, Section 27 of the Michigan Constitution.

S.B. 647 - 652 were introduced on June 18, 2009, and referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee. The Health Policy Committee held a hearing on all Senate bills in the package on October 28, 2009. Representatives from the major research universities, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Cure Michigan, MICH BIO, Michigan Stem Cell Research and Cures, and persons with disabilities testified in opposition of the bills at the two and a half hour hearing. These groups claimed that the proposed requirements were unnecessary and onerous, and would have a chilling effect on research in Michigan. The Catholic Conference and Right to Life testified in favor of the bills, citing the need to create a statutory framework for Proposal 2 and establish penalties for those who would violate the provisions of Proposal 2.

S.B. 647-652 were voted out of the Senate Health Policy Committee on January 26, 2010 with a vote of 5-2.

H.B. 5129-5134 were introduced on June 23, 2009 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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