Bush Urges Senate to Pass Total Human Cloning Ban
In a speech yesterday before opponents of human cloning in the White House, President Bush called on the Senate to approve a bill banning all forms of human cloning, saying that "[a]dvances in biomedical technology must never come at the expense of human conscience," the Washington Post reports. In his speech, which the Post called Bush's "most forceful" yet in support of the total cloning ban (S 1899) sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Bush said that allowing therapeutic cloning to continue, as many scientists and patients' rights groups have advocated, would "contradict the most fundamental principle of medical ethics -- that no human life should be exploited or extinguished for the benefit of another" -- because the procedure involves the creation and destruction of an embryo for research purposes (Goldstein, Washington Post, 4/11). Bush said that he supported a total cloning ban because if scientists were allowed to clone embryos for research purposes, there was no way to guarantee that a cloned embryo would not eventually be placed in a woman's uterus and brought to term. Bush stated that therapeutic cloning would create a "massive national market" for donated women's eggs and would lead to "exploitation of women's bodies that we cannot and must not allow." Bush also called the benefits of therapeutic cloning "highly speculative" (Zitner, Los Angeles Times, 4/11). As evidence, he cited research that has suggested that "designer cells" taken from cloned embryos may be rejected by human bodies (AP/Baltimore Sun, 4/11).
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) that he plans to call a vote on cloning legislation before the Memorial Day recess in May (Washington Post, 4/11). Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said that outlawing therapeutic cloning research in the Unites States would create an "enormous brain drain" by forcing researchers to leave for Europe, where therapeutic cloning is legal in many nations, and he predicted a "real fight" over the issue on the Senate floor (AP/Baltimore Sun, 4/11). The House voted 265-162 last summer to outlaw all forms of human cloning, but the Senate appears evenly split on the issue, with 40 senators in favor of the Brownback/Landrieu ban and 40 opposed; the remainder are thought to be undecided (Los Angeles Times, 4/11).
To view a video clip of President Bush's speech, go to pnm://184.108.40.206/220.127.116.11/bushclone.rm. To view Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) responding to the speech on CNN, go to