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Fetal tissue sale ban passes NC Senate with little debate

Posted September 24, 2015

— With little debate Thursday morning, the state Senate approved a measure banning the sale or donation of fetal tissue in North Carolina.

The measure, first unveiled in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon, would forbid any exchange of money for any tissue, even stem cells, from an aborted fetus.

Bill author Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said the bill was inspired by controversial, selectively edited videos that emerged in July showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the transfer of fetal tissue for medical research, including the cost for processing and shipping the tissue.

Barefoot said the videos "reveal that a marketplace for the parts and remains of unborn children is growing in this country."

"The videos are utterly gruesome, callous, and their contents represent a very dark and depraved part of our culture," he said.

Planned Parenthood regional officials say their clinics in North Carolina do not sell, transfer or donate any fetal tissue. Barefoot said Wednesday he doesn't know whether any other abortion providers do.

Still, he argued, it's important to put a ban in state law.

"It seeks to provide some level of dignity to unborn children who lose their lives due to an abortion," he said.

A second section of the bill restates a measure of the already-enacted budget that would bar the state from contracting for pregnancy prevention or family planning services with any organization that provides abortions, a provision that would affect only Planned Parenthood, which currently holds about $110,000 in state contracts for such programs in two counties.

Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, argued against the bill, saying the fetal tissue ban "will impede scientific research that we need" because it could bar medical researchers from paying for shipping or processing of fetal tissue or stem cells.

She also argued that the contract ban unfairly targets Planned Parenthood.

"It mischaracterizes profoundly the work of an organization that has worked for decades to improve women’s health," Van Duyn said. "It defunds some of the best work that is done in this state to prevent teen pregnancy."

Barefoot replied that pregnancy prevention education is still funded in the state budget and can be handled by other groups.

"If you want to provide adolescent and teen pregnancy services in North Carolina, then don’t provide abortions," he said.

The measure passed 41-3.

It now goes to the House for a concurrence vote, which is scheduled for Monday, according to Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

7 Comments

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  • Carol Strickland Sep 29, 2015
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    To my understanding, fetal tissue is DONATED with permission from the mother, not sold. There are handling fees involved, but these aren't sales. I'd like to have seen this story ask WHY the people who are pushing this measure think it's so important when it won't affect a darned thing? And what important issues are they turning their backs on in order to handle this non-issue?

  • Paul Maxwell Sep 26, 2015
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    Absolutely correct. Pursuing this sort of useless legislation does not attract new industrial or research firms (read: JOBS). The GA's blind adherence to ALEC and its constant pandering to the religious right is destroying this once progressive, forward-thinking state.

  • Angela Wall Sep 26, 2015
    user avatar

    And as to the debate part, these things are largely hammered out in committee and it passed with only three dissenting votes. This was not a contested issue, hardly need for a lot of debate. 3 people know they can't change the vote so they don't have much to stay...

  • Angela Wall Sep 26, 2015
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    Seriously folks, howis banning this tissue sale in NC going to affect the biotech companies? If PP has already said that none of their providers in NC sell aborted fetal tissue then the NC biotech companies have obviously been purchasing it elsewhere all this time. Is there something that prevents them from continuing to purchase it elsewhere? No, there's not! So much ado about nothing other than the NC assembly has officially said we don't want this to go on here in the future. Exactly what would these companies do if all women started electing to not get abortions? Would you be shaming women who wanted to keep their children because they weren't contributing their fair share of aborted fetal tissue to the stem cell research industry?

  • Terry Lightfoot Sep 24, 2015
    user avatar

    misguided to the extreme, Barefoot gives the impression that this legislation is his Pro- Life position being coded into law - and that he's not going to miss the opportunity ( the PP video over-reaction) to force his view onto all citizens of NC !

  • Jonathan Barnes Sep 24, 2015
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    not to mention, the bill is completely breathless considering NC wasn't even one of the states that participated in the tissue donation and research program. It would be nice if the NCGA would pass some meaningful legislation that actually accomplished something. Guess we'll just have to keep waiting until 2016 for this nonsense to be partially over.

  • Marc Nichols Sep 24, 2015
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    these thoughtless pandering legislators debate nothing because they consider nothing. They have no idea what research and medical progress stems from the use of these parts, the fact that they are sold to cover cost of collecting, storing, processing is only fair. they are going to kill research and the biiotechnology industry in this state