Debates on how to regulate human cloning are continuing in the US, with the prospect of a Senate vote on the issue looming imminent. The Senate is expected to vote on two competing cloning bills any time after its return from the US Memorial Day recess.
One of the bills, sponsored by Senators Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu, would ban both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. The other, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Edward Kennedy would allow cloning to be used in the development of medical treatments but ban reproductive cloning. Senators are thought to be fairly evenly divided about which way to vote, with only a small number of them left, as yet, undecided.
The forthcoming Senate debate has provoked many editorial and opinion pieces in the American press, some calling on the Senators to reject the bill that would prevent cloning technologies being used in the development of treatments for disease and injury. Others believe all cloning should be banned.
The leader of the Senate majority, Tom Daschle, has considered dropping both bills altogether, but says he has kept the vote on the schedule after pressure from Senators who wish their vote to be known when it comes to political campaigns for the mid-term elections later this year. Even if the Feinstein/Kennedy bill succeeds, it has a slim chance of passing as President Bush has made his anti-cloning position clear and has promised a veto.
Meanwhile, Senator Arlen Specter, who is known to support the Feinstein/Kennedy bill says that he is searching for a compromise, saying that 'it is possible that neither side will have 60 votes to cut off debate'. He claims he is working on a new bill that would ban reproductive cloning but would set up 'some sort of regulatory body' to oversee cloning techniques used in medical research. He concedes that this will not convince everyone, as some object to all cloning due to ethical or religious reasons, but believes that it may go some way to sway some who may only be concerned about what may occur if therapeutic cloning is allowed, resulting in a majority vote.