National Right to Life Committee

Specter Cloning Bill Would Protect “Human Embryo Farms”

Date: 04/30/2002

April 30, 2002 – 2pm Eastern

WASHINGTON, DC – Following a press conference today in Washington at which Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ted Kennedy (D-Ma.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) passed out a slightly revamped bill dealing with human cloning, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

“There is nothing important new in this bill.  This bill does not prohibit the creation of cloned humans — it allows human cloning, but then requires the death of each cloned human embryo. 

“Under this bill, what President Bush called human ’embryo farms’ would spring up and flourish.

“Subject only to paperwork requirements, this bill would allow biotech labs to clone countless human embryos and then kill them for their parts, or sacrifice them like lab rats in experimentation.

“This bill is not a compromise or a partial solution, but is worse than no legislation at all.  It is the biotech industry’s attempt to block the only bill that would really ban all human cloning, the Brownback-Landrieu bill (S. 1899), which has already passed the House of Representatives and which President Bush strongly supports.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the human cloning issue sometime in May.

The Specter bill differs little from the Greenwood Substitute, which the House of Representatives rejected decisively, 249-178, on July 31, 2001, after which the House passed the Brownback-Landrieu bill, 265-162.  In his April 10 speech on human cloning, President Bush condemned exactly the approach taken in the Specter bill.  [Read President Bush’s speech at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/print/20020410-4.html]

Noting the positions already staked out by the House and the President, Johnson said, “No bill will become law that allows human embryo farms to open for business, and then makes the federal government responsible for ensuring the death of every cloned human embryo, as does the Specter bill.”

Noting the endorsement of the Specter bill by Senator Hatch, Johnson called it “very regrettable, but no surprise.”  Senator Hatch says that human life begins “in a woman’s womb, not a petri dish,” but Johnson noted that “the lives of hundreds of thousands of born children have indeed begun in the laboratory, and the life of every cloned sheep, cow, and cat began in a petri dish.”

Johnson noted that the sponsors of the Specter bill avoid using the term “human embryo,” which he called “intellectually dishonest,” adding, “Many scientific authorities including the National Institutes of Health, President Clinton’s bioethics panel, and leading cloning researchers have long acknowledged that somatic cell nuclear transfer is indeed “cloning” and will indeed produce a “human embryo.”

A sampling of those authorities — including citations from an article by leading U.S. cloning researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association — are collected on the NRLC website at http://www.nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/factsheetembryo.html

Johnson noted that the magazine “New Scientist” published in an editorial in its Feb. 23, 2002 issue, deploring as “shifty” tactics these attempts to change terminology, and concluding, “Here at New Scientist we will continue to call a clone a clone.”

For further information on the issue of human cloning and the radically different legislative approaches being proposed in the Senate, see www.nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/Index.html and www.cloninginformation.org

For further information, send e-mail to legfederal@aol.com, call (202) 626-8820, or visit the National Right to Life Committee website at www.nrlc.org.