"Advances in biomedical technology must never come at the expense of human conscience," President Bush said yesterday (text | audio | video). "As we seek to improve human life, we must always preserve human dignity. And therefore, we must prevent human cloning by stopping it before it starts. … Allowing cloning would be taking a significant step toward a society in which human beings are grown for spare body parts, and children are engineered to custom specifications; and that's not acceptable."

The speech was aimed squarely at the U.S. Senate, which is considering a bill banning all human cloning. The U.S. House has already passed such a bill. The New York Times reports that the Senate is split 40-40 on the comprehensive ban, with 20 senators still deciding how to vote. But there's trouble on the horizon: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will introduce a bill banning only reproductive cloning and allowing so-called therapeutic cloning for research purposes. Sen. Sam Brownback, the sponsor of the comprehensive ban bill, says he expects a vote by Memorial Day.

Though Feinstein's bill could be spun as a "compromise" measure, Bush made it clear that it was not. Allowing therapeutic cloning would be unethical since it would "require the destruction of nascent human life," it would make a ban on reproductive cloning "virtually impossible to enforce," and it would "create a massive national market for eggs and egg donors, and exploitation of women's bodies that we cannot and must not allow." Furthermore, he said, "The benefits of research cloning are highly speculative."

One "outside adviser to the White House" on the matter tells the Times that Bush has a much stronger moral vision on this issue than he did on whether embryonic ...

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