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House Approves Ban on Human Cloning

On February 27, the House approved, 241-155, a bill (H.R. 534) to prohibit human cloning. Sponsored by Reps. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bart Stupak (D-MI), H.R. 534 would create criminal and civil penalties for any individual or entity that performs or attempts to perform human cloning. The bill would prohibit individuals or entities from shipping or receiving the product of human cloning. Additionally, the bill would prohibit cloning for medical research purposes.

There are two types of cloning—reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning involves the development of a complete individual from a single body cell, such as the creation of the sheep Dolly. Therapeutic cloning creates embryonic stem cells that are genetic matches to the patient for the purpose of repairing damaged and diseased tissue.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) offered an amendment that would require the General Accounting Office to assess the need to change the prohibition on human cloning within two years. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

The House rejected, 174-231, a substitute measure (H.R. 801), sponsored by Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA), that would have banned reproductive cloning while allowing therapeutic cloning.

During the 107th Congress, the House approved similar legislation (H.R. 2505) (see The Source, 8/03/01); however, the Senate did not consider the bill. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on human cloning.

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