WASHINGTON (March 6, 2002) -- An official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged the Senate to support "the real human cloning ban"--S. 1899--and to reject supposedly alternative bills which do not really ban the use of the cloning procedure in humans.
Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, said the decision faced by the Senate on human cloning is being obscured by efforts to redefine the term "cloning" for political purposes.
According to Ms. Quinn, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, longstanding federal law, and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission all agree on the essentials of what constitutes human cloning: it is the creation of a new organism that is genetically identical to a previously existing organism. In human cloning, a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer is used to create a human embryo, a new living organism of the human species.
"By this agreed-upon definition, the Brownback/Landrieu Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S. 1899) is the only pending bill that bans human cloning," Ms. Quinn wrote in a letter (March 1) to the Senate. "It is also the only bill found acceptable by the House, and the only one President Bush has said he is willing to sign into law."
Ms. Quinn said bills introduced by Senators Feinstein (S. 1758) and Harkin (S. 1893) do not ban use of the cloning procedure in humans at all, for any purpose. "Rather, they facilitate such cloning for purposes of research--research that does not have, and may never have, any possible clinical use," she said. "This approach is strongly opposed by the President, and was rejected by the House by a 71-vote margin."
"The effort to ensure that human clones will be mass-produced in our nation, but only in order to be killed for speculative benefit to others, is as ineffectual in preventing human cloning as it is irresponsible in its attitude toward developing human life," the USCCB official wrote.
Materials sent by Ms. Quinn to help clarify the issues faced by Congress included fact sheets on What is Human Cloning? Does Human Cloning Produce an Embryo? and a Life Issues Forum column, How Not to Ban Human Cloning.