This week, the House of Representatives is expected to pass the Weldon-Stupak bill — a comprehensive ban on all human cloning. In the Senate, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) and I have introduced similar legislation — the bipartisan Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003 (S. 245), along with 21 other senators.
As the president mentioned in his annual State of the Union Address, Congress has a responsibility to act swiftly to ban all human cloning.
In the past, we have had the leisure to debate the issue; now, with the announcement of the first live-born human clone, the time for debate is drawing to a close and the need for action is immediate.
Ultimately, whether or not the Raelian claim of a live-born human clone is proven to be true or false, we all know that a live-born human clone is either already among us or soon will be. There are other more credible scientists around the world working feverishly for the notoriety that will inevitably accompany the announcement made by the scientist who can prove to the world that he has brought the first live-born human clone to birth.
Of course, what these other scientists are trying to do, and what the Raelians claim to have done, is built on work that has already been done by some members of the biotech community. In fact, it is widely known that work has already begun in numerous biotech labs in this country and around the world for the mass production of made-to-order human clones.
Some in the biotech sector want to begin cloning humans — some already are — they just don’t want anyone to call it that.
Some who support human cloning would have society believe that there are two different types of cloning: so-called “reproductive” and so-called “therapeutic.”
Science, however, tells us that there is only one type of cloning and, when successful, always results in the creation of a young human: initially a human embryo, eventually a live birth.
All cloning is reproductive. By that I mean all human cloning produces another human life.
So-called “therapeutic” cloning is the process by which an embryo is specially created for the directly intended purpose of subsequently killing it for its parts or for research purposes. Some proponents of human cloning claim that an embryo created in this manner will have cells that are a genetic match to the patient being cloned, and thus would not be rejected by the patient’s immune system. This claim is overstated at best; in fact there are some scientific reports that show the presence of mitochondrial DNA in the donor egg can trigger an immune-response rejection in the patient being treated.
To describe the process of destructive human cloning as therapeutic, when the intent is to create a new human life that is destined for destruction, is misleading. However one would like to describe the process of destructive cloning, it is certainly not therapeutic for the clone who has been created and then disemboweled for the purported benefit of its adult twin.
I, along with the president and the vast majority of Americans, do not believe that we should create human life just to destroy it — yet that is exactly what is being proposed by those who support cloning in some circumstances. However they might name the procedure — whether they call it nuclear transplantation, therapeutic cloning, therapeutic cellular transfer, DNA regenerative therapy of some other euphemism — it is simply human cloning.
Let’s be clear, the Raelians and those interested in human-cloning research seek to create human life through a process of human cloning that a vast majority of Americans clearly oppose. The threat presented to us by the Raelians is one that should refocus our attention on the immediacy of passing a permanent and comprehensive ban on all human cloning.
The need for a permanent and comprehensive ban is pressing.
Six states have already passed laws that outlaw human cloning and several more are beginning to follow suit. In fact, the Indiana state senate recently voted 47-3 to ban all human cloning.
The president has already stated his unequivocal support for a permanent and comprehensive ban on all human cloning numerous times, and during the 107th Congress, the House voted in an overwhelming bipartisan majority to ban it. The 108th Congress must address this issue.
The time for action is now.
— The Honorable Sam Brownback (R.) is a United States senator from Kansas.