A draft law banning human cloning in medical research but allowing limited research on left-over or donated embryos was adopted in France last week. The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, had previously backed a proposal to make therapeutic cloning legal, but last week the Conseil d'Etat, one of the three main bodies that makes up the supreme court, rejected that proposal. Jospin is likely to follow this decision so as to avoid a public debate before presidential elections next spring. Under the new law, human reproductive cloning would remain illegal and be punishable with prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Current President Jacques Chirac, a known opponent of embryo research, welcomed the move, saying that priority should be given to other ways of advancing cell therapy. He hoped the law would be formally adopted before the elections. His spokeswoman said 'banning the creation of embryos for research purposes is a fundamental principle that must not be abandoned'.
Meanwhile, the German and French Foreign Ministers, Joschka Fischer and Hubert Vedrine, said that they would jointly back a United Nations resolution to ban human reproductive cloning. Fischer's ministry issued a statement saying that 'with the joint initiative, the ministers seek to establish in a legal instrument valid worldwide that reproductive cloning of humans is unacceptable and incompatible with human dignity'.
Sources and References
France drafts new genetics law as cloning debate continues
France moves to ban medical embryo cloning
Germany, France to seek UN ban on human cloning