Arkansas Human Cloning Ban Goes Into Effect
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 18, 2003
Little Rock, AR (LifeNews.com) — Arkansas has joined the list of states that have opted to ban human cloning.
The ban, which goes into effect this week, outlaws producing a living organism at any stage of development that is genetically virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human organism.
Those who oppose the law contend it will ban research on fetal stem cells, a practice condemned by the pro-life community because it involves the killing of human embryos.
But one of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Mike Creekmore (D), notes that "the bill that was passed does not ban stem-cell research. In fact it does not even address it at all."
Advocates of embryonic stem cell research maintain that it could hold the key to curing conditions such as Parkinson’s and heart disease, but pro-life activists maintain that there is little evidence to suggest that such research will yield significant results. In fact, trials involving adult stem cells have proven far more effective than those which rely on embryonic cells.
Under the Arkansas law, human cloning would be considered a felony, punishable with prison sentences as long as ten years and fines as high as $10,000.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, five states have bans on human cloning for any purpose.
"As long as the federal ban on human cloning remains blocked in the Senate, it will be very important for states to pass their own bans so they will not become havens for this grotesque practice," said Richard Doerflinger, Deputy Director of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“A growing trend toward state bans on cloning may also encourage federal lawmakers to act," Doerflinger added. "These state laws are also demonstrating that a ban on human cloning poses no threat to progress in biotechnology and medical research. For example, Michigan became the first state to ban human cloning for research purposes in 1998 — and it has become a leading state in biotechnology development."
The Arkansas ban, known as SB 185, was approved 88-5 in the state House and 34-0 in the state Senate. In March, when Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee signed the bill into law, Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director for National Right to Life, said, "We commend the legislature and Governor Huckabee for taking decisive action to prevent human embryo farming and human fetus farming in Arkansas."