Human Cloning Debate Could Impact Stem Cell Research
The House today is expected to begin discussing two competing bills that seek to ban human cloning and could have important ramifications for embryonic stem cell research, the New York Times reports. The more restrictive bill (HR 2505), sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), would ban human cloning for any purpose, including "therapeutic cloning," which involves cloning human embryos for medical research. A second bill (HR 2172), sponsored by Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.), would allow scientists to create cloned embryos for research purposes, but would ban the implantation of a cloned embryo in a woman's uterus (Stolberg, New York Times, 7/31). The White House yesterday came out in support of Weldon's bill -- which allows cloning of plants, animals, molecules, DNA and human cells other than embryos -- saying it is "consistent with the administration's position" (White House release, 7/30). Weldon's bill was approved along party lines last week by the House Judiciary Committee and will be presented today for a full House vote. Greenwood's bill will be offered as an alternative through an amendment.
Approval of Weldon's bill would be "an unprecedented federal action in restricting biomedical research" in the United States, and could affect embryonic stem cell research, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Therapeutic cloning, which proposes to use cloned embryos to develop human tissue for transplant that would be an "identical match" to the recipient, is the "'Cadillac' of stem cell work," according to Margaret McLean, director of biotechnology ethics at Santa Clara University. However, if Weldon's bill is passed, therapeutic cloning is a "lost cause," Robert Lanza, vice president for medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology, a Worcester, Mass., firm that has already used the technique to develop new immune systems in cows, said (Lampman, Christian Science Monitor, 7/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.