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Cloning Ban Approved by Judiciary Committee

The House Judiciary Committee on July 24 approved, 18-11, a bill (H.R. 2505) that would prohibit human cloning. Sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), the bill would impose criminal and civil penalties on violators of the ban. The bill states that it does not restrict research using “nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans.”

The committee defeated, 11-19, an amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) that would ban cloning for reproductive purposes but would allow cloning for research and therapeutic purposes. The amendment is similar to a bill (H.R. 2172) sponsored by Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA).

Saying that there was widespread support for banning reproductive cloning, Rep. Schiff added, “The question before the committee is how broad should that ban be.” He stated that his amendment would allow various types of research, such as stem cell research, to move forward.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) agreed, saying that the amendment was a “reasonable attempt” to ban human cloning without hurting research. However, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) argued that the amendment would be “unenforceable.”

The committee also defeated, 11-18, an amendment by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) that would have permitted the cloning of human embryos for the sole purpose of stem cell research.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) offered three amendments that were defeated by voice vote. One of the amendments would have included a sunset clause five years after enactment of the ban; another amendment would have exempted women who give birth to cloned babies from prosecution under the bill; and another amendment would have allowed individuals to use medical treatments that are developed abroad using cloning technology.

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