'Human' Definition Worries Cloning foes.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

'Human' Definition Worries Cloning foes.(NATION)


Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The National Right to Life Committee is campaigning against a Democrat-backed bill in the Senate that they say would leave the door open to human cloning.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, would ban the cloning of human beings - so-called "reproductive cloning" - but remains silent on the issue of therapeutic cloning, which is dividing the Senate.

The measure has been billed as a common-ground approach as the Senate prepares to vote on cloning, with action expected by the end of the month.

"We see it as a way to act upon what everyone agrees needs to be acted upon," said Mr. Dorgan's spokesman Barry Piatt. "Everyone believes cloning a human being should be illegal. So ... let's close that door right now ... and then let's come to a sensible agreement on the other issues."

Mr. Piatt said the bill's purpose is to prevent the therapeutic procedure from being used to produce the first cloned infant.

But Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the NRLC, said the bill leaves the term "human being" open to interpretation. Because some do not consider a fetus to be a human being, he said, that language could allow a cloned human embryo to be implanted in a uterus and grown into a fetus for experimentation.

The Dorgan bill reads, "It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in a human cloning procedure for the purpose of creating a cloned human being."

"So you've got a bill that has this additional condition, that basically anything is OK unless it's done to produce a human being," Mr. Johnson said.

"If a 'fetus' is not a 'human being,' then the bill would allow a cloned embryo to be implanted in a human or animal womb and grown for months ... before being killed to obtain tissues or organs," the NRLC said in a press release about the Dorgan bill. …

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