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Therapeutic cloning:

U.S. Legislation at the Federal & State level

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Therapeutic Cloning is also called biomedical cloning, and research cloning. It involves the process of somatic cell nuclear transfer in which the nucleus of a cell from a human patient's body is injected into a human ovum which has had its nucleus removed. The goal of therapeutic cloning is to obtain stem cells which can be developed into organs for transplant that have an identical DNA structure to the organ recipient. It does not involve the attempt to create a newborn.

Reproductive Cloning would start with the same nuclear transfer technique. However, the resultant pre-embryo would be implanted in the uterus of a woman with the intent of it developing into a fetus and eventually a newborn.

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A near consensus exists among Federal representatives and senators in favor of a ban of reproductive cloning. However, the legislators are divided on the topic of therapeutic cloning.

After years of debate, the House of Representatives passed bill H.R. 234 on 2003-FEB-27 with a sizeable majority (241 to 155). The Senate has not passed an anti-cloning bill as of 2004-FEB.

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Federal Senate bills concerning therapeutic cloning:

bullet2001-APR-26: Ban of all cloning: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced bill S. 790 to criminalize "all forms of cloning, including research cloning." The latter term is a synonym of the more commonly used term "therapeutic cloning." It notes that if therapeutic cloning were allowed, then there would be no way to prevent researchers from transferring pre-embryos into a woman's uterus in order to attempt reproductive cloning. The bill concludes that all forms of cloning must be criminalized. Fines would be in excess of one million dollars. It did not proceed. 1
bullet2001-DEC-12: Ban of reproductive cloning: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others introduced  bill S. 1758 officially titled "A bill to prohibit human cloning while preserving important areas of medical research, including stem cell research." It would have banned reproductive cloning, but allowed therapeutic cloning to continue. It did not proceed.
bulletAdditional Senate bills during 2001 and 2002-JAN: Other bills restricting cloning which did not proceed include:
bulletS. 704: Ben Campbell (CO) introduced on 2001-APR-5.
bulletS. 723: Arlen Specter (PA) introduced on2001-APR-5.
bulletS. 1893: Tom Harkin (IA) introduced on 2002-JAN-24.
bullet2001-JAN-28: Ban of all cloning: Sen. Sam Brownback introduced bill S. 1899, titled: "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001." It would have defined cloning as any somatic cell nuclear transfer, including procedures intended for either reproductive or therapeutic cloning. Penalties include up to ten years in jail and a fine of not less than one million dollars.
bullet2002-APR-9: Ambiguous bill: Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-ND) introduced a bill S. 2076. It states: "It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in a human cloning procedure for the purpose of creating a cloned human being." The problem is that there is no consensus in the country about a definition of "human being." Some people argue that a just-fertilized ovum is a human person; other argue that a fetus becomes a human person only at birth. This technique of intentional vagueness is often seen in democratic legislatures. The introduce bills that are quite ambiguous so that they will receive a great deal of support. Then, they let the courts interpret what the bill actually means. Fortunately, the bill did not proceed. 2
bullet2002-MAY-1: Ban of reproductive cloning: Senator Arlen Specter, (R-PA)  introduced a bill S. 2439, called the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2002." It is titled: "A bill to prohibit human [reproductive] cloning while preserving important areas of medical research, including stem cell research." It would have simply prohibit the implantation of cloned human embryos in a woman's uterus. It would allow the creation of pre-embryos for the development of human organs via therapeutic cloning. It would prohibit the production of cloned newborns. If signed into law, it would be similar to the laws and regulations in the UK and Canada.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said: "This bill would allow biotech labs to create as many cloned human embryos as they wish. Once they get the technical issues resolved, we believe they would create them by the hundreds of thousands, or the millions." That comments makes sense. If, for example, scientists could find a way of growing a human heart, then one embryo would have to be cloned and its stem cells removed in order to save a single patient's life. So too, for people whose kidneys have failed, and those who have a major breakdown in any other organ. The number of cloned embryos, and the number of lives saved, could both conceivably total millions each year. 3
bullet2002-JUN-14: Debates on cloning bills delayed: Progress on the two main cloning bills before the Senate ground to a halt. One bill, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback was the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (S. 790). It would criminalize both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. The other bill, S. 2439 "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2002" would allow therapeutic cloning and ban reproductive cloning. Both bills were scheduled to be debated on JUN-14, However Senator Brownback would not agree to the order in which the bills would have been considered. He wanted his bill to be dealt with second. 4 Neither bill made it into law.
bullet2003-JAN-13: Senate bill for complete cloning ban stalled: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) had decided to delay the re-introduction of his bill in the Senate which would ban both reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. He said: "We've pressed hard quickly in the past, but we haven't gotten the Senate to move. What we're trying to do this time is see if we can get broader consensus" before introducing the bill. The Senate currently has 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats, and has procedures in place that make it virtually impossible to pass legislation without 60 votes in favor.
bulletArthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics commented that Brownback is looking for "a way to get Congress on record saying that an embryo can't be destroyed." That might be used as a precedent to declare abortion illegal. If an embryo cannot be killed, then a fetus cannot either.
bulletBrownback says that there is no distinction between reproductive and therapeutic cloning. He believes that if cloning is allowed, then some researchers will create cloned babies. He said: "Everything in the United States is person or property. If at 16 cells it is property, when does it become a person? If you're not sure, the safest position is not to kill it and not to research on it." 5
bullet2003-JAN-29: Ban all cloning: Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced bill S. 245 into the Senate. It would criminalize "all forms of cloning, including research cloning." It is identical in wording to bill H.R. 534, which was later passed by the House on 2003-FEB-27. The maximum sentence would be ten years in prison. The fine would be at least $1 million dollars. According to Victoria Griffith of the Financial Times, "The bill would place in jeopardy embryo research that uses cloning to mine coveted stem cells in the hope of curing a wide range of diseases, from Alzheimer's to diabetes."

The bill did not proceed.

bullet2003-FEB-5: Ban reproductive cloning: Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) introduced bill S. 303, titled: "A bill to prohibit human cloning and protect stem cell research." It would allow  "therapeutic use of cloning but bans reproductive cloning." 6 It would have prohibited:
bulletA somatic cell nucleus from being transplanted into a human oocyte (egg) that has undergone or will undergo fertilization;
bulletAn unfertilized blastocyst from being maintained after more than 14 days from its first cell division, not counting storage times at temperatures less than zero degrees centigrade;
bulletAn oocyte from being used in nuclear transplantation research unless donated voluntarily with the donor's informed consent;
bulletAn oocyte or unfertilized blastocyst from being acquired, received, or transferred for valuable consideration in interstate commerce; or
bulletThe conduct in a laboratory of nuclear transplantation in which human oocytes are subject to assisted reproductive technology treatments or procedures.

The bill did not proceed.

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Federal House bills concerning therapeutic cloning:

bullet2001-MAR-28: Ban of reproductive cloning: Rep. Brian Kerns (R-IN) introduced a bill H.R. 1260 "To prohibit the cloning of humans, and for other purposes." It's title was "Ban on Human Cloning Act." The bill would have prohibited "....any person from engaging in a human cloning procedure (the transfer of a nucleus of a human somatic cell into an egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed) with the intent of implanting the resulting cellular product into a uterus." The bill established criminal penalties. It did not proceed.
bullet2001-APR-3: Ban all funding of cloning research: Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) introduced bill H.R. 1372 to ban all Federal funding of human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic. It did not proceed. 14
bullet2001-APR-26: Ban of reproductive cloning: Rep. Vernon Ehlers introduced bill H.R. 1608, the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001." It would have prohibited cloning unless the DNA source used in the procedure is modified so that the resultant pre-embryo "cannot develop to  completion." The latter phrase appears to be ambiguous. The bill did not proceed. 7
bullet2001-APR-26: Ban of all cloning: Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) introduced a second Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001. House subcommittee hearings were held. The bill was reclassified as H.R. 2505. 7
bullet2001-JUN-14: Ban of reproductive cloning: Rep. James Greenwood, (R-PA) introduced H.R. 2172 "To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the cloning of humans, and for other purposes." 7 Its popular title is: the Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001. would ban cloning with the intent of initiating a pregnancy. However, it would allow therapeutic cloning -- the growing of organs to save people's lives by transplant.  The bill was later rejected by the House on JUL-31 by a vote of 178 to 249.
bullet2001-JUL-16: Ban of all cloning: Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL) introduced bill H.R. 2505. It would have prohibited human reproductive and therapeutic cloning. It would have provided "that nothing in this Act restricts areas of scientific research not specifically prohibited above, including research in the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans." 8
The House approved H.R. 2505 on 2001-JUL-31 by a vote of 265 to 162. By a vote of 249-178, the House rejected an amendment that would have allowed the limited creation of cloned embryos dedicated solely to research.
bulletRep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) said: "This House should not be giving the green light to mad scientists to tinker with the gift of life. Cloning is an insult to humanity. It is science gone crazy.''
bulletRep. Jim Greenwood (R-PA), said: "Why would we condemn the world and future generations not to have this miracle? Some would say once you put Mr. Greenwood's cheek cell in and it divides, it becomes a soul.''
bulletPresident Bush congratulated the House's decision: "Today's overwhelming and bipartisan House action to prohibit human cloning is a strong ethical statement, which I commend. We must advance the promise and cause of science, but must do so in a way that honors and respects life.''

The Bill was referred to the Senate, but did not proceed.

bulletAdditional House bills during 2001: Other bills restricting cloning which did not proceed include:
bulletH.R. 2747; Rep. Diana DeGette (CO) introduced on 2001-AUG-2
bulletH.R. 3495; Rep. Ron Paul (TX) introduced on 2001-DEC-13
bullet2003-JAN-8: Ban of all cloning: Rep. Dave Weldon, (R-FL) reintroduced bill H.R. 2505 as H.R. 234, which became H.R. 534, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003. The bill had 102 cosponsors.
bulletRobert Lanza, spokesperson at Advanced Cell Technology said: "It would be tragic if this bill passes...If Congress overreacts and passes this bill, it could be a death sentence for many patients. There are over 3,000 Americans who die every day from diseases that could be treated in the future with these new technologies. The medical and scientific community is unanimous in banning reproductive cloning but at the same time the medical and scientific community is also unanimous in its support of therapeutic cloning.....This research is going to proceed overseas in other countries regardless of what we do here in the U.S. In all likelihood these groups are going to operate overseas anyway."
bulletSenator Brownback wrote in a statement: "There is no need for this technology to ever be used with humans -- whether for reproductive purposes or for destructive research purposes."

The bill called for a sentence of up to ten years and a fine of one million dollars or more.  7 Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) proposed an amendment that would have permitted therapeutic cloning. She said: "If there is a possibility that therapeutic cloning could provide a cure that would save the lives of millions of patients who suffer ever day with terrible diseases, then we should do everything we can to encourage this research." Her amendment, and three others by Democrats, were rejected by the Committee. A vote was scheduled later in 2003-FEB. Even though hundreds of millions of people will be potentially affected by this bill -- those who suffer from diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, etc., -- no public hearings will be held. 9

bullet2003-FEB-27: Ban of all cloning: By a vote of 241 to 155, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bill H.R. 234. Part (b) of the bill states that it would be "unlawful for any person or entity, public or private, knowingly to import for any purpose an embryo produced by human cloning or any product derived from such embryo." If, as most researchers expect, therapeutic cloning leads to miracle cures of Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc. then this bill will also criminalize the importation of any medicines that have been developed in other countries through the use of therapeutic cloning.
bulletRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) unsuccessfully attempted to amend this part of the bill. He said: "Who among us could tell a person suffering from cancer or Alzheimer's, 'You cannot import the cure that will save your life'?" Responding to promoters of the bill who warn that therapeutic cloning research is a slippery slope that would eventually lead to reproductive cloning, Lofgren said: "There is no slippery slope. There is no fertilization with sperm, no implantation into a womb. There is no child."
bulletRep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) said that the U.S. should set a moral example for the rest of the world by banning both research and cures that have resulted from the research.
bulletRep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) said that anything short of a total ban of all cloning would lead to reproductive cloning and "would license the most ghoulish and dangerous enterprise in human history. Congress must act now. We can no longer wait for another biotech company to claim they have cloned children." 10

The bill is identical to Senate bill S. 245.

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State legislation:

bullet2002-JAN-24: WI: Anti-cloning bills: The Wisconsin Catholic Conference and Wisconsin Right to Life sponsored a forum on cloning. They were promoting two bills, which are sponsored mainly by Republicans. One would make embryonic stem cell research felony with fines of up to $10,000 and prison time. Both bills were expected to pass the Republican-controlled Assembly and later stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate. According to CNSNews: "Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized the legislation, however, calling it devastating to Wisconsin's efforts at finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes, and to the state's image as a worldwide leader in biotechnology." 13
bullet2002-MAR-23: FL: Anti-cloning bills not expected to pass: House Bill HB 805 and Senate Bill SB 1164 were not expected to be voted upon as the legislature concluded its session. They would have banned all human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic. Cloning activity could have resulted in a 10-year jail sentence and a one million dollar fine. Kenneth Goodman, a University of Miami professor and co-director of the Florida Bioethics Network said that a ban "is like telling the Wright brothers they needed to rely on springs and rubber bands....We need to be sensitive to all sorts of constituencies. But scientists are looking for guidance, not a door slammed in their faces." 14
bullet2002-JUL-1: IA: Iowa becomes the sixth state to ban human reproductive cloning: Iowa joined California, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia by implementing a law banning human reproductive cloning. Pro-life supporters had attempted to ban both therapeutic and reproductive cloning, but had to compromise on a bill that only criminalized reproductive cloning in order to get the legislation passed. 16
bullet2003-JAN-29: TX: Texas anti-cloning bill: Bill SB 156 has been introduced in the Texas Senate. Its next step will be a review by a committee.
bullet2003-FEB-20: KY: Bill to ban reproductive cloning: By a vote of 10 to 7, the House Judiciary Committee of the Kentucky legislature approved House Bill 265 during the week of FEB-9. It was sponsored by Representative Larry Clark (D-Ikolona). It would ban reproductive cloning, but would allowed state universities to engage in therapeutic cloning. The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky backed the bill. On FEB-19, House Bill 153, sponsored by Representative Joe Fischer, (R-Fort Thomas) was defeated by a vote of 10 to 7. It would have banned both forms of cloning. Dr. Walter A. Jones III, a policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, testified abpit Bill 265. He said that the therapeutic cloning process still leads to creation of an embryo that, if implanted into a womb, could grow into a human being. He said: "'It is still cloning, no matter what the name is." Wendy Baldwin, vice president for research at the University of Kentucky, said the technique offers exciting opportunities for the treatment of debilitating conditions. "In all my years, I have never seen an area of such promise." 11

Bill HB 265 was passed by the House on FEB-20. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Larry Clark, (D-Louisville), "dismissed comparisons between cultivated egg cells that change into specialized tissue, such as muscles or nerves, and human life. Egg cells in stem-cell research are not fertilized by sperm and would not become babies, Clark said. 'I would ask the opponents of this bill, does this group of cells grow an arm? A leg? A heart? A brain? Hands? Does it have a soul? Is it equal -- is it worth my life, or your life?' Clark asked."

"In a two-hour debate that sometimes was emotional, but often dogmatic and repetitive, legislators hailed embryonic stem-cell research as a potential medical miracle and compared it to slavery and genocide. Scientists in the House gallery watched the 59-to-40 vote with University of Kentucky President Lee Todd and University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey." 12

bullet2003-MAR-30: KY: Bill to ban reproductive cloning killed: According to John Cheves of the Herald-Leader: "The [Kentucky] Senate voted 22-16 for an amendment that nullified the controversial House Bill 138, a human cloning ban. The Senate then laid the bill on the clerk's desk indefinitely, a move that stops the bill for the rest of this legislative session." The bill would have banned both reproductive and therapeutic cloning.
bulletJane Chiles, of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky said: "The mad scientist approach -- no limits, let me move full steam ahead, no matter what -- is what the universities want here."
bulletSen. Robert Stivers, (R) said nobody knows what the potential of stem-cell research will achieve. He said: "What this bill does without the amendment is close a door. A hope. An opportunity." 15
bullet2007-FEB-22: IA: Legislature eases restrictions on therapeutic cloning: The Iowa House narrowly approved a bill to ease restrictions on therapeutic cloning. The Senate had approved a similar bill during the previous week. Governor Chet Culver (D) will probably sign the bill into law. 17

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  1. "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001," S. 790. Text is online at: http://thomas.loc.gov
  2. "Pros or cons? Senator Dorgan peddles phony cloning ban," Family Research Center news letter, 2002-MAY-14.
  3. Stuart Shepard, "Cloning supporters muddy the debate," Family News in Focus, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/
  4. David Brody, "Cloning Ban Vote Delayed, Perhaps Permanently," Family News in Focus, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/
  5. Alan Bjerga, "Brownback holds off on pushing cloning bill," Wichita Eagle, 2003-JAN-13, at: http://www.kansas.com/mld/
  6. Steve Mitchell, "Senator to introduce cloning ban bill," UPI, 2003-JAN-29, at: http://www.upi.com/
  7. More information on these bills from the 107th Congress (2001-2002) can be obtained from: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d107query.html Bills from the 108th Congress (2003-2004) can be found at: http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/d108query.html
  8. "H.R. 2505: Bill summary and status," at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
  9. David Brody, "Weldon Human Cloning Bill on Fast-Track," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/
  10. Kristen Philipkowski, "House votes to outlaw all cloning," wired News, 2003-FEB-28, at: http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,57854,00.html
  11. Deborah Yetter, "House committee rejects measure to ban cloning," Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, 2003-FEB-20. at: http://www.courier-journal.com/
  12. John Cheves, "Bill prohibits human [reproductive] cloning," Lexington Herald-Leader, 2003-FEB-21, at: http://www.kentucky.com/
  13. Joanne M. Haas, "Wisconsin Conservatives Push to Protect Embryos, Ban Cloning," CNS News, 2002-JAN-24, at: http://www.cnsnews.com/
  14. John Pain, "Cloning ban not likely to pass," The Associated Press, 2002-MAR-23, at: http://www.tallahassee.com/
  15. John Cheves, "Senate vote goes against cloning ban. Threat to research ends as bill dies for this session," Herald-Leader, 2002-MAR-30, at: http://www.aberdeennews.com/
  16. Lynn Okamoto, "Laws take effect Monday," DesMoines Register, 20020JUN-29, at: http://www.dmregister.com/
  17. "Iowa Legislature Sacrifices Embryos," CitizenLink, Focus on the Family, 2007-FEB-23, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2000-AUG-17

Last updated 2007-FEB-23
Author: B. A. Robinson

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