by Steven Ertelt
April 22, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A group of senators on Thursday reintroduced legislation that would authorize taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research and promote human cloning for scientific studies.
California Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced the legislation along with Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Their measure has never received a vote in the Senate, but they hope to change that this year.
Feinstein said the bill was needed because, in absence of federal law on the issue, states have begun their own efforts to tackle the controversial subject.
A handful have prohibited embryonic stem cell research while others are looking at programs to use taxpayer funds to pay for it.
"Some major things have changed since the last Congress, and federal action has created a void. And this void is now being filled by states and by private entities," Feinstein said at a press conference to announce the bill. "The result is a patchwork of laws, inadequate funding of research, and contaminated cell lines."
The bill would overturn a federal policy put in place in August 2001 by President Bush that limits the use of taxpayer dollars for the unproven research.
Bush has instead favored the use of adult stem cells, which have produced dozens of treatments and cures, and he has funded such stem cell research with more than $190 million from the National Institutes of Health.
The president has reiterated his position against human cloning and funding research destroying human life and would veto any bill doing that. He also wants to take his policy one step further by putting restrictions on any research involving human embryos.
Pro-life groups also oppose the bill because it would allow the use of human cloning to create and destroy unborn children for research. While the measure bans human cloning for reproductive purposes, it allows scientists to use it.
"The Hatch-Feinstein bill is a bill intended to promote the creation of human embryos by cloning, for the sole purpose of using them in medical research that will kill them," Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.
""The Hatch-Feinstein bill does not ban human cloning — rather, it bans allowing human clones to survive past a specified stage of development, which is why we call it the ‘clone and kill bill,’" Johnson added.
Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu have introduced an alternative bill, backed by pro-life organizations, that prohibits all forms of human cloning.
They reintroduced their measure, S. 658, which has also never received a vote, in March. It has 30 co-sponsors.
"The real purpose of phony bill is to provide political cover for pro-cloning senators and impede the progress of the bill that would really ban human cloning, which is the Brownback-Landrieu bill," Johnson explained.
Reps. Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican, and Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, introduced a companion human cloning ban in the House. That measure has repeatedly been approved by the House on bipartisan votes.
In an August 2004 poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, 53 percent of respondents said that they opposed “using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos,” while only 38 percent supported it.
The poll also showed most Americans oppose the kind of legislation Feinstein and her supporters have introduced.
When asked if they believe that all human cloning should be banned, 69 percent agreed while only 24 percent of respondents said that “cloning to create human embryos for stem cell research which would kill them should be allowed and only cloning for reproduction should be banned.”
"It is important for pro-life citizens to tell their federal representatives that they support President Bush’s policy against funding research that requires the killing of human embryos," Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.
ACTION: Contact any Representative at https://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml or any Senator at https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm