Conservatives claim they are against human cloning. But yesterday, House conservatives blocked passage of a bill to ban reproductive cloning. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007 would have made it illegal to clone a human being. The AP reports:
House Republicans united Wednesday to reject a Democratic-backed bill to ban human reproductive cloning, a prelude to the larger battle this week over the federal funding of stem cell research. […]
Only 14 of 196 voting Republicans supported it. Among Democrats, 190 of the 221 voting were for it.
The bill, hastily added to the House agenda Wednesday, makes it illegal to use cloning technology to initiate a pregnancy and create a cloned human being. Violators would be subject to up to 10 years in prison and face fines of up to $10 million.
Human cloning is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people. A Gallup poll last week found that 86 percent of the public opposes it. Human cloning is also banned in several other countries, including Britain and Australia.
Conservatives torpedoed the bill because it does not ban the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to create embryonic stem cells, which is often called therapeutic cloning. They argue that SCNT, which is legal, constitutes human cloning, because they consider the embryo-like entity it produces to be a human being.
Strong support for embryonic stem cell research continues to show, however, that the majority of Americans do not consider embryos to be human beings. SCNT would allow scientists to create patient-specific stem cells, which would greatly aid disease study and drug development, and also vastly reduce the risk of transplant rejection for clinic use of embryonic stem cells. Conservatives have been actively opposing SCNT at the state level, including Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.
The public support for this research has been strong when the distinction is properly made between reproductive cloning and SCNT. A Republican pollster found that 69 percent of Kansas voters and 66 percent of Missouri voters support SCNT, and a 2005 poll found that 69 percent of Americans support SCNT.
Right-wing opposition to this popular and useful research has prevented Congress from banning human cloning. — Sam Berger