Louisiana Bills Banning All Human Cloning Almost to Governor
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 4, 2004
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana legislature’s about-face on embryonic stem cell research means that two wholesale bans on human cloning are just a vote away from the governor’s desk.
While SB 74, sponsored by Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie) cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday, the full House voted 69-32 to strip an amendment from a wholesale human cloning ban that had been changed to allow for destructive embryonic stem cell research.
The provision they struck was the same amendment the House had voted 55-42 to attach last month.
Rep. Gary Beard (R-Baton Rouge), the sponsor of HB 803, had pulled his support of the bill after the pro-embryonic research amendment was attached, but managed to find overwhelming support for his original bill this week.
Then, Wednesday night, the House voted 97-2 to send the restored human cloning ban to the Senate. The upper chamber, just last week, passed a bill duplicating Beard’s, SB 873, by a 29-8 vote.
The Senate Bill’s sponsor, Art Lentini (R-Kenner) has asked that his bill be moved out of House committee as its “clone” bill has already passed that chamber. Lentini’s bill will now be considered by the full House, and both human cloning bans are expected to reach the governor’s desk soon.
Hines’ bill, which bans human reproductive cloning but supports embryonic stem cell research in which human embryos are cloned then destroyed, appeared to have the support of the legislature earlier this session. But how the House will now vote on his bill is uncertain, as many representatives have changed their votes on allowing such research.
The Senate passed SB 74 a week before it passed Lentini’s bill, but by a narrower margin.
If Wednesday’s vote to strip the amendment encouraging embryonic stem cell research from HB 803 is an indication on the House’s new position, Hines’ measure may not make it to Governor Kathleen Blanco’s desk.
Governor Blanco has stated that Louisiana need a human cloning ban, but she is reserving judgment on whether a wholesale ban is needed until she reads the measure or measures the legislature passes.
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 has the backing of a group of pro-life organizations, including the Catholic Church, which has lobbied hard in support of his bill, especially since it was “sabotaged” by the pro-embryonic research amendment.
Beard’s bill, drafted by attorney Dorinda Bordlee of Americans United for Life, explicitly states that adult stem cell research and cloning of non-human organisms or tissue are not addressed by the ban and are not prohibited. Bordlee also drafted Lentini’s Senate bill.
"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.