WASHINGTON (March 28, 2003) -- Saying that a ban on human cloning requires banning the use of the cloning procedure to create new developing humans in the first place, an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Congress to support the Brownback/Landrieu "Human Cloning Prohibition Act" (S. 245).
Richard Doerflinger said the Hatch/Feinstein "Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act" (S. 303)--despite its name--is not a ban on human cloning at all.
Mr. Doerflinger is Deputy Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. He gave testimony (March 27) before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He was asked to comment on the two pending federal bills now offered as a response to human cloning.
Alluding to numerous deficiencies in S. 303 (Hatch/Feinstein), the USCCB official said this bill "does nothing whatever to ban the use of the cloning procedure to create human embryos, for any purpose (or even to restrict someone's ability to create them for no discernible purpose at all)."
"What it does ban is 'embryo transfer,' a distinct procedure already in use by fertility clinics across the world for many years; and this creates serious legal and enforcement problems," Mr. Doerflinger said.
"This bill allows cloning research that will facilitate what its sponsors claim to oppose--that is, cloning to produce born children," he continued. "This is widely acknowledged by experts who support cloning for research in general and S. 303 in particular."
The USCCB official said the bill allows exporting cloned embryos to facilitate violations of other countries' laws and erects "a mere fašade of protection against research risks for human subjects involved in cloning research."
Mr. Doerflinger said S. 245 (Brownback/Landrieu) by contrast does ban human cloning as that is scientifically and accurately defined; imposes its penalties on irresponsible researchers, not on vulnerable women; avoids the moral, legal and constitutional problems raised by efforts to "ban" pregnancy and birth; effectively attacks the threat of "reproductive cloning" at its root, by preventing the production of cloned human embryos; and bans shipping, receiving or importing of cloned human embryos for any purpose, preventing any collusion by the U.S. government with those who wish to violate other countries' laws against cloning.
S. 245 also "respects the diversity of American views on the human embryo, by enacting only those provisions necessary to ban human cloning and leaving other research (including embryonic stem cell research that does not involve cloning) to be addressed by other proposals," Mr. Doerflinger said.