Okla. Bill Would Ban Use of Aborted Fetuses in Food Industry

January 26, 2012 — Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) last week introduced a bill (SB 1418) that would ban "the manufacture or sale of food or products [that] use aborted human fetuses," NPR's "The Two-Way" reports.

The measure would make it illegal for any individual or food company to "manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients," according to the proposed statute.

Shortey told radio station KRMG that his research shows food companies have used human stem cells to perform research or to develop products, including artificial flavorings. However, he acknowledged that he is unaware if the practice actually occurs in Oklahoma. He said, "[I]t may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here" (Chappell, "The Two-Way," NPR, 1/24).

FDA spokesperson Pat El-Hinnawy said that the agency "is not aware of this particular concern." Tony Lauinger -- executive director of the antiabortion-rights group Oklahomans for Life, which has advocated for some of the strictest abortion laws in the country -- also said he had never heard of human fetuses being used by the food industry.

The bill does not have full support from state lawmakers, many of whom have criticized it. Self-described "pro-life" Sen. Brian Crain (R) -- chair of the state Senate Human Services Committee, where the bill would likely be assigned -- said the state has more pressing issues to resolve. "We don't need to go looking for possible challenges that may come about sometime in the future," he said, adding, "If it can be demonstrated that this is a challenge facing our food supply, then I think we need to act quickly, but there's been no demonstration that this is going on" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/24).