States ahead of Congress in efforts to ban cloning

WASHINGTON (BP)--While Congress continues to debate the costs and benefits of a ban on human cloning, some states are forging ahead with their own laws banning or restricting the practice.

Proponents of human cloning argue that harvesting the cells of cloned embryos could potentially yield cures to human diseases, such as cancer or diabetes. Opponents contend it's ethically wrong to clone human beings for "spare parts."

While the federal government is deadlocked on the issue, "the states are critically important" in the movement to ban human cloning, William Saunders, senior fellow for human life studies at the Family Research Council, was quoted by CNSNews.com Feb. 25 as saying.

By the count of Richard Doerflinger, an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, five states already have laws on the books that restrict or ban human cloning: Michigan, Virginia, California, Rhode Island and Louisiana.

On Feb. 21, a committee of the Colorado House of Representatives approved a bill to make the cloning of human tissue a felony. Similarly, in Oklahoma, a committee approved a bill on Feb. 18 that would ban human cloning. The Oklahoma bill, however, would allow certain exceptions for so-called therapeutic cloning -- cloning not intended for human reproduction.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Opio Toure, said his bill is designed to prevent the harvesting of human embryos while permitting the cloning of molecules, DNA and cells for medical research.

Reflecting the divisive nature of the cloning and stem-cell research debate, Republican state Rep. Bill Graves blasted the bill for not going far enough. "I think it's a bad step, a step in the wrong direction if you want to ban cloning," said Graves, who is sponsoring a tougher anti-cloning bill.

Other states have such efforts under way. The South Dakota state Senate approved in a 31-1 vote Feb. 21 a resolution urging the federal government to ban human cloning, expressing the sense of the Senate that cloning embryos for research shows a lack of respect for the dignity of that person.

Iowa state Sen. John Redwine hopes to win support for his bill prohibiting human cloning for any purpose, including stem-cell research. Redwine's bill has opposition from the University of Iowa, an advocate for stem-cell research.

In New Hampshire, a House committee heard testimony Feb. 20 about a bill that would also ban all human cloning in the state. The bill would punish violators with a fine of up to $1 million or an amount double the financial gain of such an endeavor.

Some pro-life activists are calling human cloning, whether for reproductive or therapeutic purposes, the most critical social issue of our time. At a Capitol Hill forum Feb. 22, Doerflinger warned against a future in which cloned humans are viewed as "mere research material" that is "better dead than alive."


Hall is a staff writer with www.CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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