Nigel Cameron

Senate Denied Opportunity for Cloning Vote, But Issue Will Not Go Away

Date: 06/13/2002

Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Ph.D.
Dean, The Wilberforce Forum
Director, Council for Biotechnology Policy
Founding Editor, Ethics & Medicine


Senators Daschle and Reid and the Majority leadership have betrayed the clear commitment they made last fall to allow time and opportunity for the Senate to consider a ban on all human cloning.Using parliamentary tactics to avoid a vote they feared they and their backers in the biotech industry would lose, they made it impossible for Senators Brownback (R-KS) and Landrieu (D-LA) to argue their bi-partisan case.

The idea of a two-year moratorium has been proposed as a way of stopping embryo cloning while there is further debate. Some uncertain senators who may not have supported Brownback-Landrieu seem to like this approach. That seems to have panicked the biotech industry and the Democratic leadership into their stonewalling technique. Big Bio does not want any new regulation of its activities and fears that a two-year time for reflection may help the American people persuade its elected representatives in the Senate to follow the House (which voted 265-162 for a complete cloning ban last summer) and the president (whom I heard strongly endorse Brownback-Landrieu in the East Room of the White House a few weeks ago).

It’s worth remembering that the American people are clearly and strongly opposed not just to the birth of cloned babies, but to cloning embryos for medical experiments. Despite efforts by the media and pro-cloning politicians to portray this debate as pro-life versus pro-choice, a remarkable array of activists and leaders from both camps have come together in an informal coalition to support a comprehensive cloning ban. Progressive leaders like Stuart Newman of the Council for Responsible Genetics and Judy Norsigian, editor of the pro-choice text Our Bodies, Ourselves, have testified on behalf of Brownback-Landrieu.

Senator Daschle must be held to account for his refusal to allow this enormously important legislation a fair hearing and a vote without a filibuster.