Lawmakers, seeking to rein in the scientific appetite for human experimentation, are attempting to ban human cloning. On July 31, the House approved a bill, 265-162, that would make it a federal crime to clone humans for reproduction or research purposes.

HR2505, sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., would mandate up to 10 years in prison and civil penalties of at least $1 million for violators and would apply to both public and private researchers.

Scientists have already announced plans to clone people to provide children for infertile couples. They are using the same process researchers used to create Dolly, a sheep clone, in 1997.

Opponents of human cloning say the bill is necessary on ethical and safety grounds, since cloning babies could result in "unhealthy and malformed children." They also object to cloning as a source of embryonic stem cells, which some scientists say hold the potential for curing diseases.

"Opening the door to human cloning—even with good intentions—inevitably will lead to experimentation on the child-to-be," says Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

But Democrats and many scientists say the bill's broad language would stymie important medical research and efforts to study stem-cell technology.

The Bush administration endorsed the Weldon bill, a version of which Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., has introduced in the Senate. The bill would specifically ban a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, a cloning technique that could be used to create an embryo for reproduction or to harvest its stem cells.

Related Elsewhere

Also appearing today on our site: "Embryos Spilt Prolifers."

The full text of the bill, its cosponsors, its status, and other information is available at the Library ...

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