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To clone, or not to clone
President Bush urges the Senate to support a ban on human cloning during a speech in the East Room
On July 31, by a vote of 265 to 162, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (HR2505). The act prohibits reproductive as well as therapeutic cloning and designates all violations as criminal offenses punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In February 1997, one month after scientists at the Roslin Institute cloned Dolly the sheep, President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting federal funding of human cloning projects. One year later in 1998, a bill sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) called for a 10-year ban on reproductive human cloning but allowed cloning of human cells and tissues for urgent biomedical research. The bill failed to pass.
HR2505 however, effectively bans all human cloning, reproductive and therapeutic. Douglas Johnson, Federal Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee, applauded the bill: “By an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the House has acted to block the creation of human embryo farms – but the biotech firms will begin this ghoulish industry soon, unless the Senate also acts.”Competing bills in the Senate, divided over the issue of therapeutic cloning, prevent HR2505 from passing. The debate over human cloning and the value of embryonic cells as living beings or as tools in life-affirming research, continues.