Current State Laws on Human Cloning

Date: 12/12/2004

Arkansas

SB 185 (Act 607, enacted 2003)

Modeled on the federal Brownback/Landrieu cloning bill. Forbids any person to “perform or attempt to perform human cloning” or participate in such an attempt. “Human cloning” is defined as “human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing the genetic material from one (1) or more human somatic cells into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte whose nuclear material has been removed or inactivated so as to produce a living organism, at any stage of development, that is genetically virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human organism.” Those who violate the ban are guilty of a class C felony. Those who ship, transfer or receive an embryo produced by human cloning for any purpose are guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

California

Cal. Health & Safety Code, §§24185 to 24187 (Approved 1997, made permanent 2002)

Bans efforts to create a human being by utilizing somatic cell nuclear transfer “for the purpose of, or to implant, the resulting product to initiate a pregnancy that could result in the birth of a human being.” Also bans “human reproductive cloning,” defined as “the creation of a human fetus that is substantially genetically identical to a previously born human being.”

Cal. Health & Safety Code, §125115 (Enacted 2002)

Establishes a state policy that “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation, shall be permitted.” This new law may be designed to supercede the older law against creating a cloned fetus. “Embryonic germ cells” are obtained from 8-week-old fetuses, while adult stem cells are obtained from born children.

Iowa

Iowa Code, Chapter 707B (Enacted 2002)

Modeled on the federal Brownback/Landrieu cloning bill. Forbids any person to “perform or attempt to perform human cloning” or participate in such an attempt. “Human cloning” is defined as “human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing the genetic material of a human somatic cell into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte whose nucleus has been or will be removed or inactivated, to produce a living organism with a human or predominantly human genetic constitution.” The purpose of the new law is “to prohibit human cloning for any purpose, whether for reproductive cloning or therapeutic cloning.” Those who violate the ban are guilty of a class C felony. Those who transfer or receive a cloned human embryo for any purpose are guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.

Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 40 §§1299.36 to 1299.36.6.

Forbids any person to “clone or attempt to clone a human being,” and forbids a health facility or agency to “allow any individual to clone or attempt to clone a human being in a facility owned or operated by the health facility or agency.” “Clone” is defined as in California law, to involve an intent to initiate a pregnancy. However, a separate state law prohibits intentionally destroying a viable fertilized ovum, and requires that “[n]o in vitro fertilized human ovum will be farmed or cultured solely for research purposes or any other purposes.” La. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 9, §§129, 122. Whether this prohibits use of cloned embryos for research depends on how courts will interpret the phrase “fertilized human ovum.”

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws §§333.16274, 333.16275, 750.430a.

Forbids any individual to “engage in or attempt to engage in human cloning,” applying civil penalties (up to a $10 million fine) and criminal penalties ($10 million fine and up to ten years in prison). “Human cloning” means “the use of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to produce a human embryo.” §333.16274(5). This law clearly forbids creating a cloned human embryo for any purpose, including research. A separate state law also forbids using a live human embryo “for nontherapeutic research if… the research substantially jeopardizes the life or health of the embryo…” Performing such research is a felony. §§333.2685 (1), 333.2691.

North Dakota

HB 1424 (Enacted 2003)

Modeled on the federal Brownback/Landrieu cloning bill. Forbids any person to “perform or attempt to perform human cloning” or participate in such an attempt. “Human cloning” is defined as “human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing the genetic material of a human somatic cell into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte, the nucleus of which has been or will be removed or inactivated, to produce a living organism with a human or predominantly human genetic constitution.” Those who violate the ban are guilty of a class C felony. Those who transfer or receive the product of a human cloning for any purpose are guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws §§23-16.4-2 to 23-16.4-4.

Bans use of somatic cell nuclear transfer “for the purpose of initiating or attempting to initiate a human pregnancy,” as well as the creation of “genetically identical human beings” by “dividing a blastocyst, zygote, or embryo.” The law seems to ban cloning by nuclear transfer only if done to initiate a pregnancy. However, a separate law prohibits the use of “any live human fetus, whether before or after expulsion from its mother’s womb, for scientific, laboratory research, or other kind of experimentation.” R.I. Gen. Laws §11-54-1(a). An analysis commissioned by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission interprets this law to “ban research on in vitro embryos altogether,” apparently including cloned embryos. NBAC, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, Vol. II, pages A-4, A-10.

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws §§34-14-16 to 34-14-20.

Under this law it is a crime to “conduct nontherapeutic research that destroys a human embryo” or that “subjects a human embryo to substantial risk of injury or death.” “Nontherapeutic research” means “research that is not intended to help preserve the life and health of the particular embryo subjected to risk.” A person also may not “use for research purposes cells or tissues that the person knows were obtained by performing” such harmful nontherapeutic research. “Human embryo” is defined as “a living organism of the species Homo sapiens at the earliest stages of development (including the single-celled stage) that is not located in a woman’s body.” The law applies to human embryos regardless of whether they arose from fertilization, so it certainly bans experimental cloning in which human embryos are destroyed, as well as any use of cells or tissues obtained by destroying them. Given the current survival rate of human embryos created by cloning, it also has the effect at present of banning the basic research in human cloning designed to prepare the way for attempts at cloning for live birth.

Virginia

Va. Code Ann. §§32.1-162.21, 32.1-162.22.

The law forbids “human cloning,” defined as “the creation of or attempt to create a human being by transferring the nucleus from a human cell from whatever source into an oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed.” It also forbids anyone to “implant or attempt to implant the product of somatic cell nuclear transfer into a uterine environment so as to initiate a pregnancy…” Exempted from the ban are research or practices involving the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer or other cloning technologies “to clone molecules, including DNA, cells, or tissues…” The scope of the law is not entirely clear, but it seems intended to ban use of somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning to make a human organism at any stage of development, and separately to ban efforts to implant the organism in a uterus.

Several other states may ban research that harms or destroys cloned human embryos, depending on how their laws on embryo research or fetal experimentation are interpreted:

  • Maine prohibits the use of “any live human fetus, whether intrauterine or extrauterine… for scientific experimentation or any form of experimentation…” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22 §1593. “Fetus” is not defined to clarify whether it includes the embryo.
  • Like Rhode Island (mentioned above), Massachusetts bans research on a live human fetus, “whether before or after expulsion from its mother’s womb.” Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 112 §12J. This law could ban experiments using cloned embryos, depending on whether it applies to the time before the embryo is placed in a mother’s womb. The Massachusetts law specifically includes “an embryo” in its definition of “fetus.”
  • Like Louisiana (mentioned above), Minnesota and Pennsylvania clearly ban experiments that pose a substantial risk of harm to the early human embryo. However, their protection extends “from fertilization” onward, which may inadvertently fail to cover the embryo produced by cloning. Minn. Stat. §§145.421, 145.422; Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 18 §§3203, 3216.

Overview

  • Five states (Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia) ban human cloning for any purpose.
  • Three other states (Louisiana, Rhode Island and California) ban cloning for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy. Two of these states, Louisiana and Rhode Island, may also ban use of cloned human embryos in harmful research by a separate law on embryo research. California has a separate law on stem cell research that seems to encourage bringing cloned embryos to later stages of development to obtain their stem cells.
  • In addition, at least one state (South Dakota) clearly bans use of any human embryos (including cloned human embryos) in research that could harm them. Laws that may be interpreted to have this effect exist in four states that have no specific law on cloning as such (Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania).

For more information on state laws on human embryo research, see

www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/states701.htm
.