Communications Department

Washington Times: Pro-life cloning ads target senators

Apr 24, 2002 | In the News

The Washington Times

April 24, 2002


Pro-life cloning ads target senators

By Amy Fagan



As the Senate inches closer to a debate on human cloning, the National Right to Life Committee is targeting some senators with radio ads in their home states. Among those singled out for NRLC’s radio ads is Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat.

The NRLC is backing a bill by Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, that would ban the cloning of human embryos for any purpose.

The pro-life group began running an ad in Iowa last week urging Mr. Harkin to “phone home” on the issue, since his state’s legislature recently voted for legislation similar to the Brownback bill.

Mr. Harkin opposes the Brownback bill and authored a competing bill in the Senate that would ban implantation of a cloned human embryo into a uterus in an effort to create the first cloned infant. But the Harkin bill, while banning “reproductive cloning,” would allow the cloning of human embryos for medical research purposes.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for NRLC, said Mr. Harkin and others are trying to “head off a true ban on human cloning by enacting a phony ban.”

NRLC and other groups say the Harkin bill and similar Senate bills, including one by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, would create an entire class of human beings — cloned human embryos — that must be destroyed in research, because it would be illegal to implant them in a uterus.

Others disagree. Michael Werner, vice president of bioethics at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which backs the Feinstein bill, said there is a dispute among scientists over whether the cloning procedure creates a human embryo.

The NRLC radio ad in Iowa refers to President Bush’s April 10 speech on cloning, in which he urged the Senate to pass the Brownback bill. The House already passed an identical bill.

Mr. Bush “warned this must be done quickly, or we’ll end up with human ’embryo farms,'” a man in the ad says.

A woman then refers to recent votes in the Iowa state legislature and adds, “Now if Governor [Tom] Vilsack will sign the bill, there will be no human embryo farms here in Iowa.” The man responds, “But in Washington, Senator Harkin is leading the fight against the bill to ban cloning of human embryos — the Brownback bill.”

Two weeks ago, Iowa lawmakers passed a bill to ban cloning human embryos for any purpose, including for research. Mr. Vilsack, a Democrat, is expected sign the measure into law Friday.

NRLC has begun running radio ads in seven other states as well, urging support for the Brownback bill: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, said he will vote for the Brownback bill and thinks it will pass the Senate. “I think embryonic cloning of human beings is wrong for any reason,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, added another cloning bill to the mix this month, “just to show that we all oppose human cloning.” But, like the Feinstein and Harkin measures, the Dorgan bill not prohibit cloning for research purposes.

Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, recently signed on to the Dorgan bill. “People want to respect human life. They also want to cure dreadful diseases and I think we can do both,” Mr. Johnson said.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has said the cloning debate will likely reach the Senate floor next month.

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