The sponsors of one of the cloning bills before the US Senate are believed to have nearly completed an amendment to the bill which they hope will improve its appeal to as yet undecided Senators. The amended bill could be ready for a floor debate and vote within the next two weeks.
The original bill, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Edward Kennedy would ban reproductive cloning while allowing therapeutic cloning to take place. The amendment to the bill, undertaken by its sponsors and Senators Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch, apparently 'spells out in unprecedented detail' exactly what scientists would and would not be able to do in cloning research. It is said to be an attempt to 'reassure' some Senators who have not made up their minds about therapeutic cloning, or who are worried that allowing it may eventually lead to reproductive cloning.
Recent polls have suggested that neither the original version of the Feinstein/Kennedy bill or its competitor, a bill sponsored by Senators Brownback and Landrieu and banning all forms of cloning, would gain the necessary number of votes to pass through the Senate.
The new amendments include a provision that says cloned embryos used in research must be destroyed when they are 12 days old. The new version of the bill also specifically bans reproductive cloning. It provides for 'strict ethical and scientific reviews' of the procedures used in cloning research and protection for women whose eggs are used to create cloned embryos. It also states that any new cloning legislation should be reviewed after one year by the General Accounting Office of the US, and after five years by the Institutes of Medicine.