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Okla., Minn. take stand against cloning

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–The Oklahoma legislature has unanimously approved a bill to prohibit all forms of human cloning, while Minnesota’s governor has signed a bill prohibiting the use of state funds for human cloning.

Oklahoma’s House of Representatives voted 83-0 for the measure May 15, and the Senate passed the bill with a 44-0 vote the same day, according to The Daily Oklahoman.

The legislation goes to Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat who vetoed a ban on embryonic stem cell research April 22. The extraction of stem cells from a human embryo for research purposes destroys the days-old human being.

If Henry were to veto the measure, a veto override — which requires a two-thirds majority — would appear to be a foregone conclusion.

In April, the House voted to override Henry’s veto of the embryonic stem cell ban, but the Senate override effort fell short.

The bill approved by the Oklahoma legislature May 15 would ban the creation of an embryo by cloning in order to harvest his stem cells, as well as the production of an embryo for the purpose of carrying the child to term.

“The idea that we would allow the creation of human embryos through cloning crosses an ethical line and violates our most basic values,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Pam Peterson, a Republican from Tulsa.

Bioethics specialist Wesley Smith applauded the bill’s passage. “This is the first true human cloning ban to pass in a long time,” Smith wrote on his weblog. “Unless the governor vetoes the bill and that veto is upheld, it looks like Oklahoma has pushed back against [the] brave new world.”

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill May 16 that included a prohibition against the use of state funds for human cloning.

The measure, which became law as part of legislation funding higher education, bars the University of Minnesota from using state money to pursue human cloning, according to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

The ban applies to cloning for both research and reproductive purposes. It is believed the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute is seeking to produce clones for research, MCCL reported.

MCCL commended Pawlenty, a Republican, and the legislature “for establishing a clear ethical boundary which upholds the integrity of the human embryo and opposes the commodification of the human body,” MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach said in a written release. “Human life must be treated with dignity, not as mere raw material for experimentation.”
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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