Human Exceptionalism

Feinstein and Hatch: Mendacious or Merely Ignorant?

I just went to Senators Orin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein’s Web sites to read their press releases on the introduction of S. 812, a bill that would legalize human cloning and authorize researchers to pay women to undergo egg procurement. Here, in part, is what both releases state:

The Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Protection Act of 2007 would allow stem cell research–known as somatic cell nuclear transplantation–to proceed under strict oversight from the federal government. However, the bill would draw a distinct line between this promising research and human reproductive cloning, which it bans outright.

Where does one begin? Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer is not embryonic stem cell research. Rather SCNT is a method of creating mammalian life “asexually,” that is, it creates a cloned embryo. One potential use for an embryo created through SCNT is embryonic stem cell research, but it is certainly not the only use. Indeed, proving that SCNT is not the same thing as stem cell research, as I wrote about yesterday, the bill would outlaw the implantion of the “product of SCNT” into a uterus. The perceived necessity to ban implantation proves my point that the “product of SCNT” are not stem cells: They are embryos. Stem cells could be implanted into billions of women for hundreds of years and not one pregnancy would result. But implant the “product of SCNT”, and a pregnancy could well result.

And here’s another bit of mendacity from both releases, which states that the bill would only:

Allow this stem cell research only to take place on unfertilized eggs.

But the bill itself refers to the “product of SCNT” as an “unfertilized blastocyst.” A blastocyst is the name given an embryo at about the one week stage of development. It is not an unfertilized egg, which is a single cell, an oocyte, also known as a gamete.

Either Dianne Feinstein and Orin Hatch do not know what they are legislating about or they don’t care about honestly communicating with their constituents about what they are legislating about. Either way, it does not speak well of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Orin Hatch.

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