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House panel approves comprehensive cloning ban

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Judiciary Committee has forwarded legislation prohibiting all cloning of human beings to the House of Representatives.

The committee voted 19-12 Feb. 12 for the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, H.R. 534. The measure will move to the floor, where it is expected to be taken up when the House reconvenes Feb. 25 after the President’s Day recess.

It is highly likely the House will easily approve the bill. In the last congressional session, representatives passed a similar proposal by more than 100 votes. Its future in the Senate is much more doubtful. The Senate failed to act on the House-approved measure last time.

Opponents of cloning for both reproductive and research purposes hailed the action.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he was “very pleased.”

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee called the vote “a step towards preventing cloned human embryo farms from opening for business.”

The committee rejected attempts to amend the bill to permit the cloning of human embryos in order to do research. Using the embryos for research results in their destruction. Some members of Congress support a ban only on cloning that results in the birth of a child.

“I am saddened that 12 of the peoples’ elected representatives chose to vote against [the bill],” Land said. “The cloning issue marks a clear fork in the road for our culture.

“Are we going to be a society that continues to affirm, as our founding document declares, ‘that all men are created equal’ and have an ‘unalienable’ right to life, or are we going to repudiate that belief and say, as the ‘clone-and-kill’ bills do, that it is permissible to create life as long as you kill it before it reaches a certain stage of gestation in order to harvest the tiny humans’ tissue for research? Do we really want to be the kind of society that says that it’s okay to kill our tiniest citizens in order to benefit older and bigger citizens? I hope and pray not,” Land said.

President Bush called in his State of the Union address for Congress to pass a comprehensive ban on cloning, saying “no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment.”

Reps. Dave Weldon, R.-Fla., and Bart Stupak, D.-Mich., are the lead House sponsors of the comprehensive ban. Sens. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., and Mary Landrieu, D.-La., are sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.