House Judiciary Committee Passes Human Cloning Ban
The House Judiciary Committee yesterday voted 18-11 in favor of a bill that would prohibit human cloning for any purpose, the New York Times reports (Stolberg, New York Times, 7/25). The bill would ban the creation of cloned human embryos or the importation of cloned embryos and any "products derived from them," and would apply to both private and public researchers. Violation of the ban would carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of more than $1 million (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 7/25). The measure passed the panel on a party-line vote, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposing the measure (Baltimore Sun, 7/25). One of the main issues of debate was that of "therapeutic cloning," a practice in which embryonic clones are created specifically to use their cells -- including stem cells -- for research purposes (Reuters/Washington Times, 7/25). Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chair of the committee, said, "Opening the door to human cloning -- even with good intentions -- inevitably will lead to experimentation on the child-to-be" (New York Times, 7/25). But Democrats said that it is "wrong" to ban therapeutic cloning and "deny" potential treatments (Reuters/Washington Times, 7/25). Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, "[A]n embryo is a clump of a few cells. How can you say to somebody who you could cure of a deadly disease 'we will not cure you because you are less important than a clump of cells'?" (Willing, USA Today, 7/25).