- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2001

The House yesterday voted to make all human cloning a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and, for those caught cloning for commercial purposes, a fine of at least $1 million.
The measure passed 265-162, and a companion bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill, which bans cloning whether to produce a born child or to create an embryo for research purposes, had strong support from both parties, with 63 Democrats joining 200 Republicans and 2 independents in support.
Voting against the ban were 143 Democrats and 19 Republicans.
"Anything other than a ban on human cloning would license the most ghoulish and dangerous enterprise in human history," said Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican. The bill also makes it illegal to use or receive from abroad any product derived from or developed with research on human cloning.
"It is simply wrong to clone human beings. It is wrong to create fully grown human babies, tailor-made clone babies," Mrs. Myrick said.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat, countered: "We must not allow our fears about research to overwhelm the hope for curing disease. We must not isolate this nation from the rest of the scientific world by banning therapeutic cloning."
President Bush, in a statement released by the White House last night, called the vote "a strong ethical statement, which I commend."
Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, has introduced a bill similar to the House-passed measure in that chamber, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said yesterday he was "opposed to the effort to clone under virtually any circumstances."
Much of yesterday's debate repeated competing visions of moral horrors vs. possible miracles, with opponents citing a horror show of human manipulation comparable to the Holocaust.
"This House should not be giving the green light to mad scientists to tinker with the gift of life," said Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican.
"Cloning is an unholy leap backwards because its intellectual lineage and justifications are evocative of some of the darkest hours during the 20th century," added House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican.
But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said a cloned embryo is not a person because it has "no feeling, no brain and no heart."
"Some of us believe that a clump of cells does not have the same moral rights as a person suffering from a disease," he said.
In the cloning process, the incomplete genetic material of an unfertilized egg is removed from the egg and replaced with the complete genetic material from a specialized, or somatic, cell of an adult. The egg is then encouraged to split.
The splitting is stopped for embryos intended for research. Proponents call this process "therapeutic cloning." But if implanted into a womb, the embryo would follow the same natural course of growth as every human being.
"There is no scientific basis" for claiming the newly created embryo is not a human being, argued Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican and chief sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat.
Every time a cloned embryo is created and then destroyed for research another unborn child will be killed, Mr. Weldon said.
Rep. James C. Greenwood, Pennsylvania Republican, called that argument "ridiculous." He sponsored an amendment, which failed on a 249-178 vote, that would have allowed cloning for research to continue, but prevented cloning intended to "initiate a pregnancy."
Mr. Greenwood said that just because an egg has been injected with "a skin cell from [my] cheek" does not mean it has a soul.
"I would question why God would choose that moment to put a soul on it," Mr. Greenwood.
In the cloning of other animals, hundreds of embryos die in vitro or are born with defects for every successful clone.
A House Republican Conference briefing paper raised the possibility of parents seeking to clone a child to be farmed for organs, or the creation of "a chosen 'super strain,' 'super race' or series of 'superior individuals' to be designed as embryos and mass produced through asexual reproduction."
Opponents of the bill say they agree with the ethical arguments against "playing God" and oppose creating cloned human beings.
"It took scientists more than 270 attempts to create the ovine breakthrough known as Dolly," said Biotechnology Industry Organization President Carl B. Feldbaum in a written statement. "It would be unethical and reprehensible to apply those odds to humans."
But Mr. Feldbaum and others in the medical research field say the bill is written too broadly and would block research using cloned human embryos.
While they are generated from DNA harvested from skin, muscle or other tissues, those embryos contain undifferentiated cells called stem cells that many scientists believe may be the key to curing a host of diseases.
Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Mass., has already announced plans to clone human embryos to harvest their stem cells. Two other groups of scientists also have announced plans to clone people to provide children to infertile couples.
The National Right to Life Council lobbied against Mr. Greenwood's amendment, arguing that provisions intended to appease opponents actually made the alternative worse.
For example, prohibiting the use of embryos to initiate a pregnancy effectively establishes a government mandate that cloned embryos must be discarded or destroyed.
"Federal law will define a class of developing human beings it is a crime not to kill," the pro-life group wrote in a statement.

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