Louisiana Activists Attempt to Derail Total Human Cloning Ban

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Activists Attempt to Derail Total Human Cloning Ban

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 12, 2004

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — Supporters of embryonic stem cell research in Louisiana are attempting a final rally of public support as two wholesale cloning bans near the governor’s desk.

In addition to unfounded claims that embryonic stem cell research holds miracle cures for diseases like diabetes, supporters at a rally at the state capitol claimed that enacting the ban could criminalize those who sought research or such medical treatment in other states.

"My husband and I can actually be charged as criminals if we seek treatment outside the state," said Lisa Martin, mother of a diabetic child.

But Dorinda Bordlee, a pro-life attorney who helped draft two pro-life cloning bans, each only a vote away from the governor, said such claims are exaggerations.

“That’s like saying if I went to England and ate a hamburger I couldn’t come back home because I’d be importing British meat," said Bordlee.

Pro-life organizations want to include so-called “therapeutic cloning” as well as reproductive cloning in human cloning bans, as the embryonic stem cell research involves cloning and destroying a human embryo.

The debate over Louisiana’s three cloning bans has had a lot of twists, the latest leaving pro-research cloning supporters behind as the legislature rallied behind the wholesale cloning bans.

While SB 74, sponsored by Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie) cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee earlier this month, 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.

Governor Kathleen 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.

"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.

Related web sites:
Louisiana State Legislature – https://www.legis.state.la.us
Louisiana Right to Life – https://www.lartl.org