U.S. Department of Justice: Enforcing a Partial Ban on Human Cloning Would Be “A Formidable Task”

Date: 05/16/2002

In written testimony presented to the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, the U.S. Department of Justice outlined the serious difficulties in trying to enforce a cloning ban that would cover only so-called “reproductive” cloning:

“[T]he prohibited activity ‘transfer of a human embryo to a uterus’ is an activity that is otherwise permitted now in all states and is performed thousands of times a year in fertility clinics… the transfer of an embryo to initiate a clinical pregnancy is presumably the same regardless of whether the embryo involved was originally produced by cloning or fertilization. Hence there is no visible difference between the prohibited activity and the permitted activity…Entrusted with enforcing such a limited ban, law enforcement would be in the unenviable position of having to impose new and unprecedented scrutiny over doctors in fertility clinics and/or research facilities to ensure that only fertilized embryos were being transferred to would-be mothers…this would be a formidable task…”

On the other hand, these obstacles would not present themselves with a comprehensive ban on all human cloning, as proposed in the Brownback/Landrieu legislation:

“The task of enforcing a general ban on human cloning for any purpose does not seem to pose insuperable challenges to law enforcement…Enforcing a modified cloning ban would be problematic and pose certain law enforcement challenges that would be lessened with an outright ban on human cloning,” the Department stated.

The only way to effectively ban cloning to produce a live birth – and enforce such a ban — is to enact a comprehensive ban on all cloning.