Maryland Cloning Ban Would Prohibit All Forms of Human Cloning
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 22, 2004
Annapolis, MD (LifeNews.com) — Senator Andrew Harris (R-Cockeysville) has proposed a total ban on human cloning in Maryland, a measure that has drawn applause from a statewide pro-life group.
"Senator Harris’s bill is a clean piece of legislation that is easy to support," said Maryland Right to Life lobbyist Leigh Heller. "It bans [human] cloning, period."
Sen. Harris, an anesthesiologist and member of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School Council, told the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Matters Committee that a wholesale ban on human cloning for any reason was needed.
"It’s all right with animals," said Harris. "But before you bring the technique to human beings, we need to take a step back and have a full discussion of the ethics."
Critics of the legislation include representatives of the state’s biotech industry, who oppose it because the bill would prohibit the cloning of human embryos for research purposes.
"Andy Harris believes life begins in a petri dish," Jack Sprague, lobbyist for the Technology Council of Maryland said, stating that the biotech industry believes life begins once "the product" is put into a womb.
Sen. Harris has also said that embryonic stem cell research has yielded little benefit, according to the Gazette, a Maryland news publication. Most major stem cell developments so far have been done with adult stem cells, which do not involve the destruction of human life.
While the entire issue of embryonic stem cell research is not addressed in the bill — only human cloning is prohibited — Sen. Harris believes the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cell research need to be examined closely. However, a human cloning ban is an important first step.
"Because the human embryo [has] a set of chromosomes, it is felt by many to be a human being," said Harris. "If one believes as I do, that the embryo is human, it makes little sense to protect it from reproductive cloning and not therapeutic cloning."
Heller agrees with Sen. Harris’ assessment of the need for such a ban.
"Not one time in history has a society been rewarded for destroying their young, even if they are as young as a week or two old," Heller told LifeNews.com. "To believe advances in science would reward us with cures for our ills, at the price of our most vulnerable, is misguided and immoral."
Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, and North Dakota have all enacted wholesale bans on human cloning and the House of Representatives has passed a federal version of the legislation.
Currently New Jersey has the most extreme pro-cloning legislation in effect, allowing for the cloning, implantation, and destruction of human life from the embryonic through the newborn stages of prenatal development.