On July 18, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime approved, by voice vote, 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.”
Subcommittee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) supported the bill, saying, “Currently no clear regulations exist in the United States that would prevent a private group from cloning a human being.”
Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) opposed the bill, stating that it went beyond a simple ban on human cloning. “We need a prohibition that allows continued research and new technologies,” he said. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) offered an amendment that would have prohibited human cloning for reproductive purposes but would have allowed cloning technologies to be used for research and therapeutic purposes. He urged the subcommittee to “reject an overbroad measure, which although well-intentioned, cuts off potential research.” The amendment was defeated by voice vote.
Rep. Scott described four amendments he intends to offer at full committee. One of the amendments would create a sunset clause; another amendment would exempt mothers from prosecution; another amendment would exempt certain medical treatments from the prohibition; and the last amendment would require the General Accounting Office to study the issue of human cloning.
The full committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on July 24.