Ban on Patenting Human Beings an Overlooked 2011 Pro-Life Win

Bioethics   |   Tom McClusky   |   Jan 2, 2012   |   11:33AM   |   Washington, DC

As long as abortion exists it is hard to ever truly claim victories – however that does not mean that progress for life is not being made.  This is recognized in many year end reviews from both the pro-abortion side as well as the pro-life side.  Most of these pro-life victories came as a result of the hard work of conservatives in getting pro-family state legislators elected to turn back the pro-death movement.

One pro-life advancement that people seems to be missing happened on the federal level with the passage of the “Weldon Patent Ban” as part of the “America Invents Act” to prevent patenting of human embryos. The issue of placing the language in the legislation was first brought to Congress’ attention by FRC.

FRC took no position on the bill in full but praises codifying into law a major pro-life provision, also known as a “rider.”

This new law makes permanent the ban authored by former Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL) that has been renewed each year since 2004 on the Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations bill to prevent the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from issuing patents on “human organisms.” The House of Representatives, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, added the Weldon language into the bill to make this ban permanent.

At the time FRC President Tony Perkins had this to say:

“Passage of the ban on patenting human organisms as part of patent reform is a huge victory for the idea that all human lives, even those of the youngest among us, are valuable and should not be viewed as property. The Patent Office had a policy of rejecting patents on human embryos, and in previous years the Weldon language helped give legal weight to that policy while some scientists wanted to gain a property right on genetically altered humans. I applaud Chairman Lamar Smith, Rep. Chris Smith and House leadership, especially Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for making sure that the Weldon language was part of the patent reform legislation approved by the U.S. Senate.

While biotechnology offers great hope for treatments and science should be explored, it must always be in the service of humanity, not the other way around. We must never lose sight of the fact that all human life, including human embryos, deserves legal protection.

Preventing the patenting of human embryos places America in line with the European Union and other great technologically advanced societies that also realize human life at all stages has inherent dignity. This is a great day for life and a great day for humanity,” concluded Perkins.” Note: Tom McClusky is the Senior Vice President of Family Research Council and FRC Action.