A "misleading" bill that would supposedly ban cloning was defeated by House Republicans this past Wednesday by a vote of 213-204, falling far from the two-thirds majority needed.
H.R. 2560, sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), would have made it illegal to use cloning technology to initiate a pregnancy and create a cloned human being, but was voted down by pro-life constituents who say that it actually legitimizes cloning.
The bill was brought up in the wake of the controversial embryonic stem cell bill (S. 5) that was voted on and approved this Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Congress today rejected the clone-and-kill bill offered by Rep. Diana DeGette," commented Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chair of the House Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, in a statement Wednesday. "A clear majority of the House saw through this misleading effort to allow human cloning while disguising it as a ban.
"This bill doesn't ban any human cloning at all – absolutely none," Smith explained. "Researchers are absolutely free-and given the green light – to clone human life to their hearts content so long as they kill and destroy the cloned embryo at some point – perhaps weeks after its creation."
Those who backed the bill, mostly Democrats, had argued that the bill had clearly been a cloning ban and that Republicans had been exaggerating the issue.
"The bill bans human reproductive cloning. Nothing more, nothing less," explained DeGette, in favor of the proposal. "It defies logic why anyone would vote against this bill."
Pro-life groups, as well as the White House, immediately voiced their suspicions after the bill was added to the House agenda, however. The bill itself was introduced under special legislation which limits debate and does not allow amendments.
If the bill would have passed, it would have only prevented researchers from impregnating clones, not banning them.
"[Rather] this phony ban sanctions unlimited human cloning for research," added Smith. "As a matter of fact, the legislation makes it a crime to allow a cloned human being to survive past a certain unspecified point. In other words, this bizarre piece of legislation would make it illegal – not to kill a cloned human being – and the penalties are stiff up to 10 years in prison and a $10 million fine."
Pro-life advocates have applauded the vote on Wednesday, but are frustrated over Thursday's stem cell vote which passed. They argue that it may lead to other moral hazards as well.
"[P]ursuit of this destructive research (S. 5) will almost certainly require you to embrace more and more egregious violations of moral norms in the effort to bring its 'promise' to fruition," said Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, in a statement.
President Bush vetoed a similar stem cell bill OK'd by the House and Senate last year, expressing that it had "crossed a moral line" because it led to the destruction of human embryos. He has promised to veto S. 5 once it makes its way to his desk.
Stem cell advocates argue that the research can lead to breakthroughs in medicine such as cure for Alzheimer's, diabetes, and other diseases.
"[But] are we willing to make the human embryo the lab rat of the 21st century?" asked Rep. David Weldon (R-Fla.).