HUMAN CLONING: Congress And States To Consider Ban
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pushing proposals to ban human cloning. However, CongressDaily/A.M. reports that the politicians "are far from agreement on exactly what shape a bill should take." A bill sponsored by Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Bill Frist (R-TN) is expected to be "unveil[ed]" in the Senate "as early as next week" and "could bypass committee and move directly to the floor" in a "rush" effort to "head off" any cloning. The Republicans' bill "seeks a permanent ban on all cloning, public and private." CongressDaily/A.M. reports that two Democrats "are planning to be ready with an alternative" should the Bond-Frist bill move to the Senate floor. Sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the alternative bill would be based on "Clinton's plan, as recommended by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, to ban cloning for five years while bioethicists, scientists and others have a chance to consider the implications." Supporters of a permanent ban, however, are decrying "the Clinton proposal as no ban at all." Associate Director for Policy Development for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Richard Doerflinger said, "It does not ban cloning. It bans implantation of embryos that have already been cloned. In the guise of a ban on cloning it really promotes destructive cloning research" (1/30).
In The House
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) announced yesterday at a press conference that "the House will legislate next month a permanent ban on cloning humans." The AP/Arizona Daily Star reports that Armey "contended that Clinton's plan would allow human cloning in laboratories for experimental purposes" but that "the Republicans' bill would 'have no loopholes'" (1/30). CongressDaily/A.M. reports that Armey said he is drafting legislation with the help of House Commerce Chair Thomas Bliley (R-VA) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), "a physicist who shepherded a cloning funding ban bill through the House Science Committee last year."
Some "biomedical research organizations have warned" that some legislation banning cloning "could inadvertently ban" important medical research. A coalition of 50 groups, in a January 26 letter to the president, said, "Poorly crafted legislation to ban the cloning of human beings may put at risk biomedical research, such as the use of cloning techniques on human cells, genes and tissues, which is vital to finding the cures to the diseases and ailments which our organizations champion" (1/30).
State Rep. Greg Davids (R-MN) said he plans to ask the state Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee to consider his bill "that would make it a felony to clone or attempt to clone humans," the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "I think we're going into uncharted territories that we don't need to be going into. Nobody knows how it would be used," said Davids, who "aims only to ban human cloning, not other research" (1/30).
A bill was introduced in New Hampshire that would ban human cloning for five years and "would subject anyone performing the cloning of humans in the state to fines of up to $250,000 per person and $1 million for a private company." The Nashua Telegraph reports that the measure, sponsored by state Rep. Robert Cushing (D), "received a warm reception" from the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. The New Hampshire Medical Society and the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Manchester have also joined in endorsing the bill (Landrigan, 1/29).
A bill proposed by state Rep. Rudy Mason (R) to "prohibit cloning or conspiring to clone a human got easy approval Tuesday from the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee," the Columbia State reports. The bill, that would "set a penalty of a $5,000 fine or five years in prison or both," will now go to the full House for consideration (Page, 1/28).