Louisiana Lawmakers Fail to Pass Any Human Cloning Ban This Year

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Lawmakers Fail to Pass Any Human Cloning Ban This Year

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 22, 2004

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana legislative session has ended, without any of the three cloning bans passing. However, there is hope for the future as Governor Kathleen Blanco told pro-life advocates that she does not support embryonic stem cell research, and favors the wholesale cloning bans that pro-life organizations had backed.

Governor Blanco discussed the bills with the Louisiana Coalition for Ethical Stem Cell Research on the final day of the session, and said that bills banning reproductive cloning but allowing for destructive embryonic research, such as the one sponsored by Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie), would not receive her support.

The two other cloning bans, both wholesale bans that would have prohibited the destructive research, overcame many obstacles to come close to passage, and eventually garnered the support of a majority of the legislature.

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 last week 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.

In such a confusing situation, the bill was sent to a three-member special committee to sort it out, comprised of Lentini, Hines, and one of Hines’ fellow supporters of destructive research, Senator Noble Ellington (D-Winnsboro). With a committee stacked against the bill, a compromise could not be reached before the end of the session.

Ellington, who refused to compromise even at the urging of Gov. Blanco, said his support stems from his views that the embryo is not a human life.

"If I was convinced this was destroying life like abortion I would have a completely different attitude," Ellington said.

An almost identical bill to Lentini’s, HB 803 sponsored by Rep. Gary Beard (R-Baton Rouge), passed the House without such amendments but did not come to a vote on the Senate floor.

While Hines and his colleagues may have prevented the passage of a wholesale ban on human cloning, they may have lost Louisiana’s clone war. Lawmakers voted in larger numbers to support the wholesale bans, and recent votes for measures supporting embryonic research, if won at all, passed by very narrow margins.

Additionally, Gov. Blanco’s now-apparent position could further influence legislators to pass a wholesale cloning ban.

“We now have opened the eyes of Governor Blanco to the true motives of Senators Hines and Ellington and the cloners they want to bring in,” said Dorinda Bordlee, the Americans United for Life attorney who drafted Lentini and Beard’s bills. “We can ask Governor Blanco to make an authentic human cloning ban an administration priority because it is clear that her active involvement is critical.”

“Finally, the cloners see that there is no political stability for their clone and kill labs in Louisiana, meaning that effective adult stem cell research can continue to thrive in Louisiana,” concluded Bordlee.

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
Louisiana Coalition for Ethical Stem Cell Research – https://www.noclones.org