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Ban on human cloning fails to gain vote in Senate

WASHINGTON (BP)–An attempt to bring to a vote a ban on human cloning failed in the U.S. Senate Dec. 3.

A procedural vote that would have provided for action on the ban as part of an amendment failed 94-1 when Republicans joined Democrats after it became clear the GOP did not have enough votes to bring the measure up, according to The Washington Post. The cloning ban had been combined with President Bush’s energy plan as an amendment to an unrelated bill.

The amendment cloning opponents sought to gain approval for would have lasted only six months. The ban would have prohibited cloning for both reproductive and research purposes.

It appears unlikely a vote will be held this year on barring human cloning. The House of Representatives voted in July by 265-162 in favor of a comprehensive ban on cloning.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D.-S.D., said earlier in the fall he would schedule a vote on anti-cloning legislation for February or March. When a Massachusetts biotechnology firm announced in late November it had successfully cloned embryos, Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., the Senate’s chief sponsor of a comprehensive cloning ban, and other cloning foes urged the Senate to act before it adjourned this year.

The announcement “trumps the situation we were in several weeks ago,” Brownback said. “[March] is too late. It needs to come up now.”

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission, said it was “critical for the Senate to pass a ban before leaving for Christmas break. Human embryo-destructive experimentation is unconscionable and must no longer be permitted.”

President Bush also condemned the news, calling the cloning of an embryo “bad public policy” and “morally wrong.”

Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., revealed Nov. 25 their success in cloning embryos. While the ACT spokesmen said they produced a number of embryos, only one progressed to the six-cell stage, where it stopped dividing. The researchers said their goal still is to clone an embryo from which to take stem cells to treat various diseases, a process that destroys the embryo.

At its annual meeting in June, the Southern Baptist Convention passed without opposition a resolution condemning both research and reproductive cloning.

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