The law of unintended consequences
I occasionally write in this blog of advances in stem cell research that may someday aid in spinal cord and brain injury treatment. I’m excited about the potential for development of non-embryonic stem cells from cord blood, adult olfactory nerves, etc. On the face of it, I tend to favor laws that restrict any form of human cloning, even for therapeutic purposes. However, a bill pending in the Georgia legislature that would make therapeutic cloning a felony may be a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.
For the past several years Georgia has been trying to situate itself as a center for biomedical research and an incubator for new businesses in the biomedical industry. Now, however, a bill pending in the legislature would make felons of scientists who do anything considered “therapeutic cloning.” Penalties would incuded up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
According to the research scientists quoted in the AJC, the definitions in the bill are far from a model of clarity as to just what research is criminalized. Too often we see legislation sail through the legislature looking as if it were drafted with a crayon. Last year’s tort reform bill was a prime example.
If you were a super brilliant biomedical researcher working at the cutting edge of stem cell science, and you had otherwise equally attractive job offers, one in a state that encourages stem cell research and one in a state that threatens to put you in prison for ten years if your research crosses a vaguely defnined line, which job would you take? If you were looking for a location for a cutting-edge biomedical business to which you need to attract the hottest scientific talent, would you choose to locate in a state that encourages and supports research, or in a state where grand-standing politicians may impose severe criminal sanctions for research?
While I applaud the intent of the bill’s author, to encourage non-embryonic stem cell research and discourage human cloning for any purpose, the legislators need to carefully consider whether ill-considered action may destroy Georgia’s future role in the biomedical industry of the 21st century.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).