ANTI-CLONING BILL: Democratic Senators Block GOP Measure
"Senate Democrats blocked action yesterday on a bill to permanently ban cloning of human beings, but the measure could see floor action next week," Newsday reports. Democrats complained that the GOP-sponsored bill, which prohibits "somatic cell nuclear transfer," the technique used by Scottish scientists to clone the sheep Dolly, contains "imprecise" language and "could hamper legitimate biomedical research." However, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) "promptly filed a motion" to end the Democratic hold and bring the bill to the Senate floor. Senate Republicans "say quick action on anti-cloning legislation is necessary" due to Dr. Richard's Seed recent announcement of his intention to clone humans. Newsday notes that both parties agree "that attempts to make genetically identical clones of human beings should be prohibited." Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), a cosponsor of the Senate bill, "said the bill is narrowly focused on the specific technique used by researchers in Scotland to extract the nucleus of a mature adult cell and insert it into an egg whose nucleus has been removed."
Democrats are concerned that such a measure "can be interpreted to outlaw other types of medical research involving human cells, organs and tissues" (Lane, 2/6). The AP/Washington Post reports that the GOP bill "would subject violators to up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine while creating a bioethics commission to further study the issue of cloning" (2/6). Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have put forth "an alternative bill that would ban human cloning for 10 years" and "would allow production of cloned human embryos for research purposes as long as they are not implanted in a woman's uterus for birth." However, Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) "said it would be wrong to produce cloned embryos for research and then discard them." He said, "Once you get into that process, you have stepped over the moral and ethical line" (Newsday, 2/6).