Louisiana Senate Backs Complete Human Cloning Ban, Battle Continues
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 26, 2004
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana state Senate passed a wholesale ban on human cloning Tuesday. The action comes a week after it passed legislation banning reproductive cloning but allowing embryonic stem cell research, in which a human embryo is cloned, then destroyed for research purposes.
Last week, the Senate approved SB 74 by a 24-13 vote. Sponsored by Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie), the bill banned reproductive human cloning but not destructive embryonic stem cell research.
Before it passed, a narrow vote defeated an amendment by Senator Arthur Lentini (R-Kenner) that would have made SB 74 ban all types of human cloning. The 18-19 vote preventing the amendment was an unexpected close call for supporters of embryonic stem cell research.
But Tuesday the Senate passed Lentini’s own human cloning ban, SB 873, by an overwhelming 29-8 vote. Lentini’s bill, like his proposed amendment, bans all human cloning, and has the backing of pro-life groups and the Catholic Church.
Hines argued against Lentini’s bill, contending that a wholesale ban would hinder research.
"The medicine of tomorrow is going to be gene therapy and stem-cell treatment — I don’t want Louisiana to be left behind, and I don’t want the little children of our state with diabetes to be left behind either," Hines said.
Lentini countered that as of yet embryonic stem cell research has been fruitless, in addition to its destructive nature.
"With all due respect, this isn’t an economic development issue — this is an issue that deals with life," Lentini said. "I don’t want to be on the cutting edge of something that destroys human life, no matter how many research dollars it brings to the state."
The fight for the bills now heads to the House, where earlier drama surrounding the cloning bills unfolded. Hines is expected to present his bill to the House Committee on Health and Welfare Wednesday morning.
Rep. Gary Beard (R-Baton Rouge) had introduced HB 803 as a bill to ban all human cloning, like Lenini’s. That bill was successfully amended by Rep. Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte), making it identical to Hines’ and allowing human cloning for research purposes.
Realizing that his purpose for the bill had been sabotaged by his colleagues, who voted 55-42 to amend the bill, Beard pulled it from further consideration.
"An embryo is a human life," said Danny Loar of the Louisiana Catholic Conference, which opposes the destructive human research. "It doesn’t matter if you are creating it through the cloning process and making a deliberate decision to use it for research."
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has not stated her position on the different human cloning bans that have been proposed, although she does believe the state needs some sort of ban on human cloning.
Rep. Beard had pointed out that a total human cloning ban does not impede research, as his opponents, including Senator Hines, have accused.
"The intent of this legislation is to prevent the cloning of humans," said Rep. Beard. "It is not to stop research."
During debate on his bill, Beard stated that opponents of his bill place a "false hope" in embryonic stem cell research. As of yet no useful embryonic stem cell lines have been created, and all breakthroughs in stem cell research have been done with adult stem cells, which do not require the destruction of human life.
"Being from a family of diabetics where death and blindness has affected my family, I would never put a bill through that would intentionally hurt anyone," Rep. Beard said.
Beard’s measure had the backing of a group of pro-life organizations.
"We want real cures now available from ethical adult stem cell research, not illusory promises from unproductive embryo research," the Louisiana Coalition for Ethical Stem Cell Research said in a statement. "Creating human life simply for the purpose of destroying it is immoral, unethical and should be illegal."
The Coalition is comprised of the American Family Association of New Orleans, Concerned Women for America of Louisiana, Hippocratic Resource, Louisiana Family Forum, Louisiana Lawyers for Life, and Louisiana Right to Life Federation.
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.