Hobbs' veto of China's organ harvesting law sparks questions | The Gateway expert

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs/Image: International Trade Administration, Wikimedia Commons

This story was originally published by Real bright wire

By Susan Crabtree
Real bright wire

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has remained silent on her recent veto of legislation aimed at curbing China's horrific trade in forced organ harvesting, which targets detained ethnic and religious minorities, primarily Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Christians and Falun Gong. practitioners.

The April 10 veto has left proponents of the legislation and human rights activists scratching their heads. In the past year, Texas, Utah and Idaho have passed similar legislation, and legislatures in Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina are debating similar measures. The bipartisan bills would prevent health insurance companies from reimbursing individuals for organ transplants in China or other U.S. adversaries. They would also ban insurance payments for postoperative procedures related to organ transplants if the organ comes from China or another country that finances or engages in forced organ harvesting.

The Idaho and Arizona versions also include language prohibiting medical reimbursement for DNA and other genetic sequencing procedures performed on sequencing devices from China and other hostile countries.

For decades, China has harvested organs from prisoners, even though the government initially claimed that all organ extractions came from volunteer donors. Yet China's top transplant doctor, then vice minister of health, admitted as early as 2005 that about 95% of all organ transplants come from prisoners killed for their body parts.

Despite international outrage over the practice, China has grown its organ harvesting trade into a $1 billion-a-year industry over the past two decades, according to international human rights experts. A growing body of research has revealed a particularly objectionable aspect of life-ending extractions: religious minorities and political dissidents are the main victims, with an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people murdered each year for their organs.

Other research has found that Chinese authorities have used DNA testing on prisoners in forced labor camps to determine which prisoners would be ideal for organ harvesting.

China has vehemently denied these findings, but in 2019 the China Tribunal, a non-governmental commission in Britain, ruled differently. The Tribunal found that China's organ trafficking industry harvests organs from executed prisoners on an industrial scaleactions that constitute crimes against humanity.

Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and co-chair of the annual International Religious Freedom Summit, praised the passage of state measures aimed at banning any U.S. complicity in China's organ harvesting trade, calling the steps “very encouraging ”. .”

“We have known for years that China has engaged in the despicable and grisly practice of forced organ harvesting. We also know that the victims of this crime are mostly religious minorities and political dissidents,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the beneficiaries are usually wealthy patients who may not be aware of the details of this illegal practice. Yet their ignorance does not absolve them from complicity in this crime against humanity.

“I commend the states that are taking action to stop health care funding for this barbaric practice,” she added. “Wealthy Westerners' demand for healthy organs cannot justify and should never encourage the brutal harvesting of organs from helpless victims in China and elsewhere.”

In issuing her veto, Katie Hobbs issued a three-line explanation, arguing that the measure “includes overbroad provisions for genetic sequencing equipment that create compliance issues for hospitals, health care providers and researchers.”

But the bill's sponsors have used language to address the insurance industry's concerns that it would be punished for unknowingly breaking the law. Michael Lucci of State Armor Action, an organization spearheading legislative efforts to curb China's organ harvesting trade, said neither Hobbs nor her staff engaged with him or other advocates to express their concerns while the measure was introduced. a path through the Arizona Legislature.

“Government. Hobbs’ veto of HB2503 is shameful,” Lucci told RealClearPolitics. “Government. Hobbs speaks about standing up for women's medical rights and medical privacy. But her veto… undercuts all that rhetoric.”

“In Arizona, DNA will be harvested by the Chinese government, and Arizona has failed in the fundamental state duty to stand up against the murderous practice of foreign organ harvesting,” he added.

Hobbs' office did not respond to repeated RCP inquiries. While Chinese transplant practices have led to international condemnation of the organ tourism trade, there is no clear paper trail to determine whether U.S. insurance companies have reimbursed residents for all costs associated with transplants performed in China or other countries. Supporters designed the bill to guard against any reimbursements and also to block coverage for postoperative care related to organ transplants that took place in China or other U.S. adversaries.

“We must make it clear that when Americans interact with the Chinese communist government, what seems too good to be true is too good to be true,” Lucci told RCP. “China's low cost is based on slave labor, and organ transplants come from political prisoners.”

“In other words, if you get an organ transplant from China, you are on your own,” Lucci told RCP. “You will have to pay for the transplant and all follow-up care associated with the transplant.”

In recent years, efforts have increased at the federal level to curb Chinese organ harvesting practices. Last year, the House of Representatives passed Republican Party Chris Smith's Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act, which would impose sanctions on anyone who sponsors or facilitates forced organ harvesting or human trafficking for the purpose of removing their organs. It would also require U.S. federal agencies to issue annual reports assessing practices in China and other foreign adversaries.

Congress is also taking action against the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), which is already under US export control restrictions, and Wuxi AppTec for their role in illegally collecting genetic material from Americans and others and for tracking ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. China, where the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against the Uyghur people. BGI, a company that co-developed its DNA technology with the Chinese military, has faced international condemnation collecting data from millions of pregnant women in the US and around the world.

In Europe, BGI used a prenatal test to collect genetic data on more than 8 million pregnant women without informing them that their data would go to the Chinese government. The Chinese military would later use this data to conduct investigations, the House Select Committee on China said.

U.S. security agencies are concerned that the vast amount of genetic information could help China dominate the pharmaceutical sector and possibly also lead to engineered pathogens that target U.S. and other foreign populations and their food supplies.

BGI has faced several US lawsuits alleging theft of US intellectual property. Wuxi AppTec, which is also accused of stealing US technology, has sponsored events with the Chinese military and operated genetic collection sites with the Chinese military. Wuxi AppTec generates more than 60% of its revenue from the US market.

In mid-May, a bipartisan group of House members, including House Representatives John Moolenaar, a Republican from Michigan, Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois, and Representative Grad Wenstrump, a Republican from Ohio, praised the passage of the Oversight Committee of the Biosecure Act, which aims to curb the American activities of these Chinese companies.

“The United States will not stand idly by while the CCP steals our genetic data,” the trio said in a statement. “We are proud to lead on the Biosecure Act and look forward to working with the leadership of the House of Representatives to get this bill to the floor as soon as possible.”

The measure would prohibit medical reimbursement for genetic sequencing procedures performed by China or another foreign adversary and prohibit any U.S. federal agency from obtaining biotechnology equipment or services from BGI and Wuxi AppTec or any other “biotechnology company of concern.” It also directs the Office of Management and Budget to publish a list of entities that constitute biotechnology companies of concern, in coordination with the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Commerce, the Department of State, Homeland Security, and the Director of the National Intelligence Service.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Susan Crabtree is the national political correspondent for RealClearPolitics.

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