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New federal anti-cloning bill introduced in US

21 March 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 300

New federal legislation that would ban all forms of human cloning has been introduced to both the US Senate and Congress. Senators Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu have co-sponsored the Senate bill and Representatives Dave Weldon and Bart Stupak are sponsoring the bill in Congress. All of the sponsors have put their name to similar bills in the past, but each bill has 'stalled' in their progression through the Senate, as well as other bills that only seek to ban human reproductive cloning. This has left cloning as yet unregulated in the US.

The 'Human Cloning Prohibition Act', as the new legislation is titled, would include a prohibition on cloning human embryos for research purposes, sometimes referred to as therapeutic cloning. Brownback said that the reason behind the bill is the proposition that 'we should not create human life just to destroy it'. Mary Landrieu told the Washington Post that 'there is no difference between therapeutic cloning, human cloning and reproductive cloning. It is human cloning'. She continued: 'The only difference is what you do after the clone is created', adding 'if you replant it and then harvest it without interruption or without interference, then it will be a human. If you then destroy it for purposes of experimentation, we think that's wrong'.

Senator Brownback said that he hopes that the legislation will be passed in the current congressional session, adding that recent developments in the United Nations (UN) may provide the impetus. The UN general assembly has approved a nonbinding statement urging governments to ban all forms of human cloning, including cloning for embryonic stem cell research, a measure that was strongly supported by the US. The statement said that nations should 'adopt all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life'.

Senator Diane Feinstein, who has previously introduced legislation that would prohibit only reproductive cloning, opposes the new bill. She said it 'would criminalise a promising form of embryonic stem cell research that could yield cures to some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases', and said she would introduce competing legislation that would allow cloning for research purposes 'under strict oversight'. Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, said that if 'they insist on blocking scientific research instead of passing consensus legislation, it's going to keep any bill from passing, and it means there won't be any action on a bill that makes illegal any attempt to clone a human being'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Ban on Human Cloning Is Introduced Again
The Washington Post |  21 March 2005
U.S. Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill That Would Ban All Forms of Human Cloning
Kaiser Network |  21 March 2005
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