Feinstein, Kennedy Offer Legislation Allowing Therapeutic Cloning
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) yesterday introduced legislation that would ban reproductive cloning but allow cloning for medical research purposes, and influential antiabortion lawmaker Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced his decision to support the measure, the Washington Post reports. The bill would prohibit the transfer of cloned human embryos either to a woman's uterus or an "artificial womb," and violators of the law would be subject to fines of $1 million and 10 years in prison. The bill would not prohibit the cloning of human embryos for medical research purposes, although any scientists wishing to practice therapeutic cloning would first need to obtain approval from a science and ethics advisory board. Current federal law only requires this type of oversight if the work receives federal funding. "We believe we have an excellent chance to prevail" in gaining approval for the measure, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who also signed on to the bill yesterday, said. However, antiabortion groups denounced the measure. Douglas Johnson, a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee, stated that the bill would allow "countless" embryos to be "kill[ed]," adding, "This bill will not become law" (Weiss, Washington Post, 5/1). The measure is expected to be taken up by the Senate later this month. The Senate is also considering an alternate bill (S 1899) sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would ban both reproductive and therapeutic cloning (Willing, USA Today, 5/1).