- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee yesterday signed into law a bill to ban the cloning of humans for any purpose, including medical research.
Supporters say they hope the action will encourage the two U.S. senators from the state to favor similar legislation in Congress.
The statewide measure passed the Democrat-controlled House by a 88-5 vote and the Democrat-controlled Senate by a vote of 34-0. It was patterned after national legislation sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican.
The U.S. Senate is expected to debate the issue this year.
Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrats, have not said whether they will vote for Mr. Brownback's bill.
"We commend the legislature and Governor Huckabee," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee. "In light of these overwhelming votes to reject human embryo farming and human fetus farming, we hope that Senator Blanche Lincoln will reconsider her past statements in favor of human cloning for biomedical research, and that Senator Mark Pryor will decide to support a complete ban."
Rodell Mollineau, spokesman for Mr. Pryor, said the newly elected senator is studying the issue and "there will be a lot of points that factor into his decision."
Drew Goesl, spokesman for Mrs. Lincoln said, "Senator Lincoln believes that each state may choose to make this determination. When the Senate considers federal legislation to restrict therapeutic stem-cell research, she will review it and make an informed decision at that time."
Mrs. Lincoln has leaned toward allowing so-called therapeutic cloning the practice of creating embryos to extract stem cells for medical research. An article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on May 2 quotes her as saying she opposes human cloning, but "I do think we need to look at therapeutic stem-cell cloning."
Mr. Huckabee has been mentioned as a challenger to Mrs. Lincoln in the 2004 election, but state political scientists say human cloning likely will not be a defining issue.
"It's not on the radar of most folks," said Janine Parry, assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas and director of the Arkansas Poll. "I don't see this as being the make-or-break issue."
The U.S. House has passed the equivalent of the Brownback bill. The measures have the support of President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.
A competing Senate measure sponsored in part by Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat also has notable support. It would ban human cloning to produce infants, but would allow embryos to be created for stem-cell research.
The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which was pushing the Hatch-Feinstein bill, released a poll March 19 that found 67 percent favored allowing therapeutic cloning research to continue.
But Mr. Johnson noted a May Gallup poll that found 61 percent were opposed to "cloning of human embryos for use in medical research."
Mr. Johnson said North Dakota is proceeding with a bill similar to the Brownback and Arkansas measures. California, on the other hand, has enacted a law that allows the use of stem cells derived from human cloning, and Washington's state Senate has begun to move a similar bill.

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