Louisiana Human Cloning Ban Heads to Committee to Fix Differences
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 17, 2004
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — One of two wholesale cloning bans in the Louisiana legislature faced a major setback this week, as apparently conflicting amendments led the Senate to send the confusing legislation to a special committee to be fixed.
Senate Bill 873, sponsored by Art Lentini (R-Kenner), passed in the state Senate earlier this month. The legislation, which bans reproductive cloning as well as embryonic stem cell research in which human life is destroyed, was amended in the House Tuesday to outlaw the cloning process to create human embryos for research, but would allow importation of embryonic stem cell lines created outside the state for research.
However, the House then defeated an amendment that would remove language in the bill prohibiting the importation of embryonic stem cells into the state. The bill, with conflicting language banning and allowing the importation of stem cells, was rejected by the Senate Wednesday.
Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie) who has sponsored SB 74 which bans reproductive cloning but allows embryonic cloning and research, proposed the confusing bill be sent to a special committee to be straightened out, and the Senate agreed.
A compromise bill must be approved by both the House and Senate by Monday, the end of the session, or no human cloning ban will be passed.
An almost identical bill to Lentini’s, HB 803 sponsored by Rep. Gary Beard (R-Baton Rouge), passed the House without such amendments and is still pending on the Senate floor.
After Beard’s bill passed the house and Lentini’s passed the Senate originally last week, Lentini had asked that his bill be moved out of House committee as a similar bill has already passed that chamber.
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.