Proposed legislation to ban human cloning would do the following:
- Prohibit the creation of cloned humans, whether the cloned humans are intended for research or for reproductive purposes.
- Outlaw the production of humans as research specimens, thereby ensuring that human life is not made a commodity.
- Redirect attention and funding to the majority of stem cell research that does not require the creation and/or destruction of innocent human life.
- Clarify the definition of human cloning as human asexual reproduction that produces a living human organism that is virtually genetically identical to an existing or previously existing human.
- Impose a civil and criminal penalty on a person or an entity who:
(a) Performs or attempts to perform human cloning;
(b) Participates in an attempt to perform human cloning;
(c) Ships, transfers, or receives, for any purpose, a human embryo or fetus produced by human cloning;
(d) Ships, transfers, or receives, in whole or in part, any human egg, embryo, fetus, or human somatic cell for the purpose of human cloning;
(e) Performs or attempts to perform research on a human embryo or fetus created by human cloning.
Note: A person or entity has NOT violated such a ban if they practice or engage in any of the following:
(a) Cloning techniques to produce molecules, deoxyribonucleic acid, tissue, organs, or any other cell as long as the cloning does not produce a human embryo;
(b) In vitro fertilization;
(c) Stem cell research involving embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (the union of sperm and egg in the laboratory to create a human embryo);
(d) A person who receives stem cell treatment using stem cells extracted from cloned human embryos does not violate a ban on human cloning;
(e) Medical procedures or fertility-enhancing drugs used to assist a woman in becoming or remaining pregnant so long as that procedure is not specifically intended to result in the gestation or birth of a child who is genetically identical to another conceptus, embryo, fetus, or human being, living or dead;
(f) Asexual reproduction (cloning) of plants or animals.
On Tuesday, May 24 th, 2005, the debate over embryonic stem cell research reached an apex in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two major bills dealing with stem cell research passed out of the chamber.
Congress approved a bill (HR 810) to provide federal funds for stem cell research that would require killing human embryos, by a margin of 238 to 194, just 50 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to override the President’s veto. While Majority Leader Tom DeLay ( R-Sugar Land ) aggressively lobbied against the bill on the House floor, three members of the Texas delegation to US Congress who typically vote prolife supported this measure to destroy human embryos. Congressman Joe Barton (R-Ennis), Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth), and Congressman Solomon Ortiz (D-Corpus Christi) voted to allow for lethal research on these tiny humans even after numerous calls from Texas Right to Life urging them to vote prolife by opposing the bill. HR 810 directly assaults the President’s 2001 policy that approved federal funding of research without promoting additional destruction of innocent human life. If H.R. 810 sponsored by Congresswoman Dianne DeGette (D-Colorado) and Congressman Mike Castle (R-Delaware), passes out of both chambers, the President has promised to veto the measure.
President Bush continues to advocate alternatives to the destruction of existing embryos, such as embryo adoption. During the Congressional deliberations, he visited with a group at the White House that included many children who were adopted when they were still embryos: “The children here today remind us that there is no such thing as a spare embryo,” the President said. “Every embryo is unique and genetically complete, like every other human being. And each of us started out our life this way. These lives are not raw material to be exploited, but gifts.”
Under H.R. 810, existing human embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics will be donated to science and killed in order for scientists to harvest their stem cells for government-funded research. The concern to prolifers is that these embryos will not be the only ones used for such lethal research; our experience with hospitals and scientists tells us that this measure is a stepping stone toward the creation of cloned human embryos. In public hearings before our own state legislature, scientists and hospital presidents admitted that they want freedom to create human embryos via cloning for the specific purpose of harvesting their parts for research.
By another vote on May 24 th, 2005, of 431 to 1, the House also approved the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act (H.R. 2520), sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and supported by President Bush. This bill would establish a new federal program to make stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood available to patients who need them.
In a statement of Administration policy , the White House said: “Cord-blood stem cells, collected from the placenta and umbilical cord after birth without doing harm to mother or child, have been used in the treatment of thousands of patients suffering from more than 60 different diseases, including leukemia, Fanconi anemia, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia. Researchers also believe cord-blood stem cells may have the capacity to be differentiated into other cell types, making them useful in the exploration of ethical stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine.”
This bill was endorsed by President Bush and by Texas Right to Life as these cells are taken not from embryos but from cord or placenta blood (these are considered adult stem cells since they are harvested from live births). In order to obtain or research these adult stem cells, a human life does not have to be destroyed.