The human-animal hybrid scourge

THE HUMAN-ANIMAL HYBRID SCOURGE…. In his 2006 State of the Union address, then-President George W. Bush urged Congress to pass legislation curbing what he considered “egregious abuses of medical research.” Among the threats in need of a legislative remedy? A ban on “creating human-animal hybrids.”

Many of us had a good laugh over this. Apparently, though, some conservative lawmakers are still taking the matter seriously. Take, for example, some Republicans in the Louisiana legislature.

Legislation that would prohibit scientists in the state from creating human-animal hybrids for experimentation — believed to be the first such ban proposed in the nation — has been filed for debate at the lawmaking session that opens April 27.

Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, has filed Senate Bill 115 on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Conference lobbyist Danny Loar said the bill is designed to be a “pre-emptive strike” against scientists who might want to mix “human and animal cells in a Petri dish for scientific research purposes.”

I get the sense that “pre-emptive strike” is a polite euphemism for “proposing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Are proponents aware of any human-animal hybrid research in Louisiana? No. Perhaps there’s similar research elsewhere in the United States? No.

So, why is this important to state Sen. Martiny? He said his sponsoring the bill because “the archbishop asked me to file it.”

If the bill becomes law — I’m going to assume Bobby Jindal won’t mind signing it — scientists would face up to 10 years in prison for human-animal hybrids.

Look out, Dr. Moreau, some conservatives are onto your little game.

Update: Hilzoy reminds me via email that part of the problem here is defining “human-animal hybrids.” We already have plenty of scientists working on research involving animal valves, for example, in humans. This is common, and presumably, conservatives in Louisiana don’t want to ban the medical research. We also have science in which mice, for example, are given human genes for cancer research. This, too, is common, and not worth banning.

So, what is it, exactly, that warrants a “pre-emptive strike”?

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation