Communications Department

NRLC Letter to U.S. Senate in Support of Brownback Amendment to Ban Human Cloning

Oct 31, 2001 | Killing Embryos

October 31, 2001

RE: In support of Brownback amendment to ban human cloning

Dear Senator:

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) strongly urges you to support an amendment that Senator Brownback may offer to the Health and Human Services appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) to ban human cloning.

The Brownback amendment tracks the language of the Weldon-Stupak bill (H.R. 2505), passed by the House of Representatives on July 31 by a bipartisan vote of 265-162. This legislation does not concern abortion (which is why the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League takes no position on the proposal), but the amendment does address an urgent threat to human life.

Each human embryo created by cloning will be an individual member of the species homo sapiens, not an inanimate commodity. NRLC believes that human beings should not be created to be “harvested” for their parts. On July 12, the Washington Post reported that a major biotechnology firm, Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts, already has a project underway to mass-produce human embryos by cloning, for the sole purpose of using these embryos in medical experimentation that will kill them. Distinct from that project, two other physicians — Severino Antinori and Panayiotis Zavos — say that they may “attempt the first production of embryos, [human] cloned embryos” within the next few months. (Reuters, Oct. 5, 2001)

Multiple public opinion polls demonstrate that the public favors a ban on human cloning B including cloning of human embryos for so-called –“therapeutic” purposes — by overwhelming margins. For example, a national poll of adult Americans conducted in early June by International Communications Research asked, “Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?,” to which 86% replied “no,” while only 10% replied “yes.” (See page 3 for additional poll results.)

We anticipate that an attempt will be made to gut Senator Brownback’s amendment through a second-degree amendment that would allow the cloning of human embryos, but prohibit the implantation of a cloned embryo in a woman’s womb. This approach — which was presented to the House in the form of the Greenwood substitute

amendment, and decisively rejected — would give a green light to establishment of human embryo farms, but would also impose an unprecedented federal mandate that a certain class of human individuals must be killed, with severe penalties for non-compliance. Under such a law, if federal law enforcement authorities learned that a researcher or private individual planned to actually implant any cloned embryos in women’s wombs, they would intervene to ensure that every human embryo dies.

Recently, some pro-cloning advocates have undertaken a brazen exercise in Orwellian “newspeak”: They have claimed that human cloning would not actually produce a “human embryo.” This recently contrived linguistic cloaking device is an insult to the intelligence of members of the Senate and of the public. As President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission acknowledged in its 1997 report Cloning Human Beings, “any effort in humans to transfer a somatic cell nucleus into an enucleated egg involves the creation of an embryo, with the apparent potential to be implanted in utero and developed to term.” Numerous other scientific panels and cloning researchers have acknowledged that the somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning method will produce human embryos (see

NRLC also strongly supports a second amendment that may be offered by Senator Brownback, to ban the creation of human embryos through in vitro fertilization for the specific purpose of using them in lethal medical experimentation. Last July, a private firm, the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia, acknowledged that it had paid men and women to provide sperm and eggs in order to specially create 110 human embryos for the purpose of killing them by extracting their stem cells.

We anticipate that any roll calls that occur on these amendments will be included in NRLC’s “scorecard” of key votes for the 107th Congress. Thank you for your consideration of NRLC’s perspective on these critical issues.


Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director

Recent Polls on Human Cloning

ABC News/Beliefnet, August 8-12, 2001. “Should it be legal in the U.S. to clone humans?” Yes, 11%. No, 87% (men 16/82, women 6/93). “Clone humans for medical treatments?” Yes, 33%. No, 63% (men 41/56, women 27/70).

CNN/USA Today/Gallup, August 3-5, 2001. The federal government should fund research on stem cells from embryos cloned from human cells: [percentage that approves] 28%.

International Communications Research, June 1-5, 2001. “Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?” Yes, 12%. No, 85%. “Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?” Yes, 10%. No, 86%.

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, April 18-19, 2001. “As you may know, scientists have made advances in cloning, where they can reproduce a whole animal from a single cell. Do you think it is acceptable to use cloning to: Reproduce humans? Acceptable, 6%. Not acceptable, 90%.

Time/CNN, Feb. 7-8, 2001: “In general, do you think it is a good idea or a bad idea to clone human beings?” Good idea, 7%. Bad idea, 90%.

“Do you think scientists should be allowed to clone human beings or don’t you think so?” Should be allowed, 10%. Should not be allowed, 88%.

Categories: Killing Embryos