A sub-committee of the Judiciary committee of the US House of Representatives approved a total ban on all forms of human cloning last week. The proposed legislation would ban cloning for both reproduction and research purposes. It proposes prison sentences of up to ten years and fines beginning at $1 million for anyone who clones, or attempts to clone, a human.
The vote was split along party lines with 18 Republicans in favour of the ban, and 11 Democrats against. Many Democrats and medical researchers oppose the ban on research as it would remove the future potential for cloning to be used to grow new body tissue that would not be repelled by a patient's immune system. They also claimed that a total prohibition on cloning would not do more to deter those intent on cloning humans than a ban only on reproductive cloning would.
But Republicans claimed that the only way to prevent reproductive cloning of humans would be to impose and enforce a ban on all human cloning. The chair of the sub-committee, Lamar S Smith, a Texan Republican, said 'this is the only way to ensure the ban's effectiveness'. Democrat Adam B Schiff, of California, promised to offer amendments that would allow cloning to be used in therapeutic medical research when the legislation goes before the whole House of Representatives.
The US Health and Human Services secretary, Tommy Thompson, praised the sub-committee, saying the vote 'puts Congress on the right track toward prohibiting the cloning of human beings'.
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House panel passes anti-cloning bill