U.S. Congress Cautioned That Bill Wouldn't Ban Human Cloning

An official of the U.S. bishops' conference urged Congress to support the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, warning that an alternative bill would not ban such cloning at all.

Richard Doerflinger said a similar-sounding Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act -- despite its name -- is not a ban at all.

Doerflinger, deputy director of the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, gave testimony last week before a Senate subcommittee on science, technology and space. He was asked to comment on the two pending federal bills now offered as a response to human cloning.

Alluding to numerous deficiencies in the cloning-stem cell legislation, Doerflinger said this bill "does nothing whatever to ban the use of the cloning procedure to ban human embryos, for any purpose -- or even to restrict someone's ability to create them for no discernible purpose at all."

"What it does ban is ‘embryo transfer,' a distinct procedure already in use by fertility clinics across the world for many years; and this creates serious legal and enforcement problems," Doerflinger said.

"This bill allows cloning research that will facilitate what its sponsors claim to oppose -- that is, cloning to produce born children," he continued. "This is widely acknowledged by experts who support cloning for research in general and S. 303 [the bill] in particular."

Doerflinger said S. 245 -- the so-called Brownback/Landrieu proposal -- by contrast does ban human cloning as that is scientifically and accurately defined. He said it also:

-- imposes its penalties on irresponsible researchers, not on vulnerable women;

-- avoids the moral, legal and constitutional problems raised by efforts to "ban" pregnancy and birth;

-- effectively attacks the threat of "reproductive cloning" at its root, by preventing the production of cloned human embryos;

-- bans shipping, receiving or importing of cloned human embryos for any purpose, preventing any collusion by the U.S. government with those who wish to violate other countries' laws against cloning.