South Dakota Senate Passes Bill Banning Human Cloning

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Senate Passes Bill Banning Human Cloning

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
January 30, 2004

Pierre, SD ( — The state Senate passed a ban on human cloning on Friday, with an overwhelming 33-1 vote. The bill, which cleared the Senate Health Committee earlier this week without debate, now moves to the state House.

”This is a chance for South Dakota to take a strong stand that we will not [permit] cloning for humans,” said Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown), who sponsored SB184.

”There is universal recognition that reproductive cloning, the cloning of cells to create human life, is something that we shouldn’t do or shouldn’t tolerate,” Schoenbeck said. ”It does happen that science can take us places where we as a society just shouldn’t go.”

Sen. Shoenbeck told that the state already prohibits experimentation on human embryos. Thus, the cloning ban focuses on reproductive cloning.

The legal ramifications of human cloning can get very complicated, as such a process could raise legal issues about parentage, according to Sen. Jay Duenwald (R-Hoven). As a clone of one human is technically that person’s twin, the donor’s parents could be considered the parents of the clone as well.

Sen. Shoenbeck also said the only concerns expressed about the bill were the impediment of other forms of research, such as that on plants and animals. The legislation specifically does allow for the cloning of animals and plants, and also addresses only manipulation of the human somatic cell used in the cloning process. During its earlier committee hearing, no one spoke in opposition to the bill.

Under the ban, violators are subject to a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of $2,000.

“We have a strong Pro-life legislature. I am very proud of our state legislature and their pro-life record,” said Sen. Shoenbeck. “Democrats and Republicans in the state senate can be counted on to stand tall for pro-life legislation. This was not always the case, but it is very true today.”

The pro-life presence in South Dakota’s legislature has made it possible for the introduction of a law that would ban abortion except when necessary to protect the life of the mother. The bill “directly confronts the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade,” according to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center. The bill has been co-sponsored by 47 representatives and 18 state senators.

In an April 2002 speech promoting a ban on all forms of human cloning, Bush said, "Life is a creation, not a commodity. Our children are gifts to be loved and protected, not products to be designed and manufactured."

Such a ban on a federal level does not exist, but Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), a pro-life doctor, sponsored a provision to prohibit companies from obtaining patents for human beings, including embryos, which would make cloning and experimentation unfeasible for companies seeking to profit from their research. The codification of the current Patent office restriction passed the House in December.

Members of the U.S. House have passed a complete ban on human cloning, but the Senate, which is debating competing measures, has never taken up the issue.

Media sources have continually downplayed the fact that the exciting and important research developments that have occurred have all been done with adult, and not embryonic stem cells.