Thanks to the Globe’s editorial board for pointing out that in Massachusetts, research on embryonic stem cells requires the advance approval of the local district attorney’s office. This is apparently because of a peculiarity in a 1974 law dealing with research on fetuses.
The district attorney’s office?? Wow. Other states, like California and most recently New Jersey, are actively encouraging stem cell research within their borders by supporting it with public funds — thereby circumventing the ill-advised ban on federal money for such research. On the other hand, we in Massachusetts not only do not offer support for this research, but insist that you get a permission slip from the county prosecutor or risk being sent to jail. Gosh, if I were a scientist interested in unlocking the potential of this research to cure human diseases, which state would I want to work in?
The legislature needs to get on this now. Even if the state doesn’t want to commit to putting up public money just yet, for God’s sake let’s get rid of this absurd district attorney requirement!
UPDATE: AP reports that Trav, DiMasi, and His Excellency all have come out publicly in support of stem cell research, notwithstanding the objections of certain special interest groups. Let’s do it, guys.