OKLAHOMA CITY -- Citing misconceptions about pending legislation on stem cell research, Gov. Brad Henry announced Wednesday afternoon his plan to veto House Bill 1326.
The legislation would have made it a crime for a scientist to perform any form of embryonic stem cell research, the same kind of research supported by such pro-life, conservative leaders as Nancy Reagan and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Although proponents billed it as a "pro-life" measure, the governor noted that HB 1326 does not address abortion in any manner or save a life.
"There are all kinds of misconceptions and misinformation about this issue, and that's regrettable," Henry said. "It's important to point out that this legislation does nothing to stop an abortion or save a single life, but it does threaten life-saving research and unjustly criminalizes scientists who perform important work, the very kind of research that is supported by pro-life conservatives like former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
"It would be morally repugnant to me to sign legislation outlawing scientific research that saves lives. I don't think this bill is consistent with Oklahoma values, and I cannot approve it in good conscience."
Scientists believe embryonic stem cell research could yield new treatments or cures for cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, blindness, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injuries and a variety of other ailments.
The research utilizes unused embryonic stem cells, or blastocysts, originally created to assist couples in their effort to have children. Because in vitro fertilization procedures often create multiple blastocysts for a single couple, many are unused and ultimately destroyed and discarded. HB 1326 criminalizes and punishes a scientist who, with the couple's consent, elects to conduct stem cell research with an unused blastocyst before it is destroyed.
Henry said he will officially veto the legislation after lawmakers adjourn Wednesday and prepare to fight any override attempts Thursday.