U.S. Senate to Grapple with 3 Life Issues

Human Cloning, Stem Cell Research and the Mexico City Policy

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WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. Senate will soon be in the thick of battle over three life-related issues.

The first is human cloning. On Wednesday the Democratic leader of the Senate said he was "very uncomfortable" with human cloning, period. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota spoke a day after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a broad ban on human cloning.

The House acted as President George W. Bush faced a decision over whether to permit federal financing for studies on stem cells derived from human embryos. Such embryos are destroyed in the process.

And that leads to the second issue facing the Senate: embryonic stem cell research.

Daschle, who controls the Senate schedule, has said that if Bush refuses to release federal money for stem cell research, he will move ahead in the autumn with legislation to do so, the New York Times reported.

Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas and author of legislation similar to the House cloning ban, said that if Daschle did not quickly bring a vote on cloning to the Senate floor, he would force a debate on the issue when senators considered stem cell research.

The third issue is the so-called Mexico City policy, which bars U.S. aid to groups that perform or advocate abortions overseas.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week voted 12-7 to permanently reverse President Bush´s prohibition on such U.S. aid. A week ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a provision as part of its foreign aid spending bill that would overturn the ban for one year.

The moves set up a possible battle on the Senate floor and eventually could lead the Democratic-led Senate into a showdown with Bush and the Republican-led House as the two chambers try to work out differences in the foreign aid bill.

The House already voted narrowly in May to support Bush´s decision to revive the Mexico City policy in his first act in office in January.

The abortion rule, announced by then President Ronald Reagan at a Mexico City conference in 1984 and rescinded by Bill Clinton while he was president in 1993, has been the focus of annual legislative fights in Congress.