Bush, others call for cloning ban as House subcommittee holds hearing
By Tom Strode
WASHINGTON (BP)--The White House, members of Congress and the scientist
who cloned the first mammal expressed opposition to human cloning
as a House of Representatives panel held a hearing on the controversial
A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony
March 28 from both advocates and opponents of human cloning. While
some members of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
were prepared to back a ban on such research, according to reports,
others outside the hearing room also spoke out.
President Bush opposes human cloning "on moral grounds" and
believes "no research to create a human being should take place
in the United States," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer
said the day of the hearing.
Bush supports President Clinton's order barring federal funds for
human cloning and will work with Congress on a legislative ban on
human cloning, regardless of the source of funding, Fleischer said.
Ian Wilmut, the Scottish researcher whose team cloned the sheep Dolly
in 1997, denounced plans to clone a human being, according to The
Guardian, a British newspaper. In an article released the same day
as the hearing in the journal Science, Wilmut and coauthor Rudolf
Jaenisch, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist, said
the cloning method was deeply flawed, resulting in large numbers
of miscarriages and abnormalities among animals, The Guardian reported.
"There is no reason to believe that the outcomes of attempted
human cloning will be any different," they wrote.
Wilmut told The Guardian, "Attempting to clone a human would
be extremely cruel for the woman and children involved, and there
could be a backlash against valuable research into cloning to create
cells for therapeutic purposes."
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, chairman
of the House Republican Conference, issued a terse statement, saying, "Dolly
the sheep will learn to fly before the U.S. House of Representatives
condones human cloning."
The subcommittee heard from cloning advocates, including some who
hope to clone human beings.
Brigitte Boisselier, science director of the Raelian religious sect,
said her group has begun cloning research at a secret site in the
United States, according to The Washington Post. She refused to say
whether the group would obey a government directive warning it not
to clone a human being without Food and Drug Administration approval,
The Post reported.
Raelians believe human beings are clones of alien beings.
Panos Zavos, a former University of Kentucky professor, told the
subcommittee he and others hope to clone a human being within two
years outside the United States, according to The Post.
Other witnesses and some panel members expressed opposition to human
cloning, although some couched their opposition in terms of "human
reproductive cloning," apparently making
it unclear whether they were against the cloning of human embryos
for research purposes.
Ben Mitchell, a biomedical consultant for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission, submitted written testimony calling for an immediate
ban on human cloning, including of embryos.