Lawmakers Offer Bills to Ban Reproductive Cloning, Permit Embryonic Stem Cell Research
A bill (SB 1230) proposed by Sen. Dede Alpert (D-Coronado) would ban reproductive cloning but allow cloning to continue for research purposes, the Sacramento Bee reports. California's five-year moratorium on human cloning, enacted in 1997, expires on Dec. 31 of this year, and the recent announcement that researchers in Massachusetts have cloned human embryos has prompted some legislators to seek a permanent injunction on the practice. Alpert said she proposed the legislation because it is unclear what direction the federal government will take on cloning. The U.S. House voted in July to ban all forms of human cloning, but the Senate has yet to debate a similar measure. "Whether we will actually wind up informing or guiding federal policy, who knows? But I think at this point we should continue with the process," Alpert said.
Although Alpert's bill is expected to "sail through the Legislature," a separate bill (SB 1272) introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) that would permit embryonic stem cell research to occur in California under certain regulations may have more trouble gaining support, the Bee reports. The bill, which would prohibit the sale of embryos, is expected to face opposition from antiabortion advocates who say that harvesting embryonic stem cells kills the "potential lives" of the embryos. "How do we as a society do something that we know is going to terminate something over here on the hope and prayer that we do something good over there?" Sen. Jim Battin (R-Palm Desert) asked. The initiative has already drawn the support of health advocates who say stem cell research holds promise for treating degenerative disorders. "People are suffering. California must support this," Maxine Krugman, president of the Parkinson's Disease Association of the Sacramento Valley, said.
The policies contained in both bills were endorsed by a 12-member state advisory panel composed of ethicists, lawyers and scientists. The committee recently recommended that California enact a permanent ban on reproductive cloning but permit embryonic stem cell research that may use cloning techniques. The panel also suggested that a state agency be appointed to oversee such research (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/16).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.