Delaware Human Cloning Bill Another "Clone and Kill" Horror

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Delaware Human Cloning Bill Another "Clone and Kill" Horror

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
January 15, 2004

Dover, DE ( — Delaware lawmakers are grappling with the hot-button issue of human cloning. The Delaware House is considering a Senate-passed bill which could lead to large-scale human embryo farms.

While the legislation is called the Cloning Prohibition and Research Protection Act, it is designed to promote human cloning rather than stop it, according to pro-life organizations.

Although the bill backers claim that it bans human cloning, it actually permits unlimited cloning of human beings through a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. The legislation authorizes embryo farms, which would allow for the production of human embryos in order that their stem cells can be harvested.

Specifically, the legislation would ban reproductive use of cloned human embryos, prohibiting the creation of a human child by the implantation of a cloned human embryo into a woman for subsequent birth. However, the bill would allow these tiny human beings to be cloned in a laboratory and destroyed for morally illicit stem cell research.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Wilmington, Chris DiPietro, told the Cape Gazette newspaper, "SB 55 creates a subclass of individuals who can be sacrificed for scientific research conducted, not for their benefit, but solely for the benefit of other people. Such a practice is an affront to the inviolable character of innocent human life."

The legislation has the backing of a number of lawmakers, including Sen. Robert L. Venables (D-Laurel), Sen. George H. Bunting (D-Bethany Beach), Rep. John C. Atkins (R-Millsboro), and Rep. Benjamin Ewing (R-Bridgeville).

However, a number of pro-life organizations, including the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, want to see the legislation defeated. They see it as a direct assault on human life.

The diocese has launched a large-scale grassroots effort to defeat the legislation, which would permit cloning of human embryos for biomedical and agricultural research. The Knights of Columbus is also engaging in an educational campaign about the potentially deadly effects of the legislation.

However, efforts to open the door to human embryo farms are being waged by lawmakers throughout the country.

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is among those leaders on Capitol Hill who support human embryo farms. Specter supports so-called "clone and kill" legislation which would allow human cloning for scientific purposes. The Specter bill would require that the human embryos be destroyed after their stem cells are harvested.

Recently, the state of New Jersey enacted legislation which pro-life activists consider to be the worst cloning bill in the nation.

"It is extremely perverse and objectionable that his (the Governor’s) goal of making ‘New Jersey the nation’s leader for medical research’ includes the unethical practice of human cloning and the harvesting and use of body parts of cloned humans in the embryonic and fetal stages of development which is authorized under this law," said Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life.

Although the Delaware Senate passed its own cloning bill, its passage is not necessarily assured in the House. Some lawmakers say they remain undecided on the issue.

Rep. Joe Booth (R-Georgetown) told the Cape Gazette, "since the bill passed the Senate, I have had letters and emails about the bill, but most are from out of my district."

The Delaware legislation has the support of scientists from the University of Delaware and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

However, the Diocese of Wilmington says SB55 is not needed for scientific research.

Diocesan officials point out that morally acceptable stem cell research can be conducted through the use of umbilical cords, umbilical cord blood and placentas. Scientific experiments have consistently shown that adult stem cell research is more effective than research which employs fetal stem cells.

"Unlike adult stem cells which are curing people, embryonic stem cells have never been used successfully in clinical trials in humans and carry significant risks, including immune rejection and tumor formation," Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life said.

Related web sites:
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington –