On Feb. 27, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the second
time to ban all human cloning.
The act prohibits people from knowingly attempting to perform human
cloning or participating in such a procedure by shipping or receiving
an embryo produced from human cloning, whether the cloned embryo is to
be used for reproduction or research. A bill to allow cloning for research
but ban it for reproduction failed the same day in a 231-174 vote.
The U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman praised the 241-155 vote to pass
the Human Cloning Prohibition Act.
"Today's vote reflects America's rejection of the notion that human
life is a commodity to be created for experimentation," Cathy Cleaver,
director of planning and information for the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, told Catholic News Service.
A nearly identical bill was approved by the House in summer 2002, but
the U.S. Senate failed to act on it. A similar bill to ban all cloning
of human embryos is currently before the U.S. Senate, but it is not known
when or whether senators will vote on it.
Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, chairman of the U.S. bishops'
Committee on Pro-Life Activities, had urged the House to pass the Human
Cloning Prohibition Act and criticized the alternative cloning bill, saying
it would "directly involve the federal government in registering
for-profit human cloning laboratories and supervising their manufacture
of human beings as research material."
Although a few fringe scientists claim to have implanted cloned embryos
in the wombs of women with the hope that the practice will yield babies,
there is nearly universal condemnation of such cloning for reproductive
purposes. There is more vigorous debate about cloning embryos for research.
Some scientists say that stem cells culled from cloned research embryos
could help people suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and
many other diseases. But the benefit of embryonic stem cells is still
unclear. And because the research involves destruction of embryonic human
life, the Catholic Church teaches that it is immoral, no matter what its
possible benefits may be.
A December 2002 claim from a tiny religious sect that a cloned baby
had been born has largely been dismissed as a hoax. But in late 2001,
a legitimate Massachusetts research company announced it had cloned the
first human embryo, which they intended to use for stem-cell research.