U.S. Congress Cautioned That Bill Wouldn't Ban Human Cloning

Bishops' Conference Official Points Out Flaws of Legislation

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 31, 2003 (Zenit.org).- An official of the U.S. bishops' conference urged Congress to support the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, warning that an alternative bill would not ban such cloning at all.

Richard Doerflinger said a similar-sounding Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act -- despite its name -- is not a ban at all.

Doerflinger, deputy director of the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, gave testimony last week before a Senate subcommittee on science, technology and space. He was asked to comment on the two pending federal bills now offered as a response to human cloning.

Alluding to numerous deficiencies in the cloning-stem cell legislation, Doerflinger said this bill "does nothing whatever to ban the use of the cloning procedure to ban human embryos, for any purpose -- or even to restrict someone's ability to create them for no discernible purpose at all."

"What it does ban is ‘embryo transfer,' a distinct procedure already in use by fertility clinics across the world for many years; and this creates serious legal and enforcement problems," Doerflinger said.

"This bill allows cloning research that will facilitate what its sponsors claim to oppose -- that is, cloning to produce born children," he continued. "This is widely acknowledged by experts who support cloning for research in general and S. 303 [the bill] in particular."

Doerflinger said S. 245 -- the so-called Brownback/Landrieu proposal -- by contrast does ban human cloning as that is scientifically and accurately defined. He said it also:

-- imposes its penalties on irresponsible researchers, not on vulnerable women;

-- avoids the moral, legal and constitutional problems raised by efforts to "ban" pregnancy and birth;

-- effectively attacks the threat of "reproductive cloning" at its root, by preventing the production of cloned human embryos;

-- bans shipping, receiving or importing of cloned human embryos for any purpose, preventing any collusion by the U.S. government with those who wish to violate other countries' laws against cloning.