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February 9, 1998

S. 1601 - Human Cloning Prohibition Act
(Sen. Lott (R) MS)

On June 9, 1997, the President transmitted to Congress legislation making it illegal for anyone to create a human being through cloning. The President believes that using somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning techniques to create a human being is untested, unsafe, and morally unacceptable. The Administration, however, believes S. 1601, as introduced, is too far-reaching because it would prohibit important biomedical research aimed at preventing and treating serious and life-threatening diseases. Therefore, the Administration would not support passage of the bill in its current form. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these concerns. Specifically, the Administration supports amendments to S. 1601 that would:
  • Include a five-year sunset on the prohibition on human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology. The sunset provision would ensure a continuing examination of the risks and benefits of this, while being free from the concern that someone will use it prematurely.

  • Permit somatic cell nuclear transfer using human cells for the purpose of developing stem cell (unspecialized cells capable of giving rise to specific cells and tissue) technology to prevent and treat serious and life-threatening diseases and other medical conditions, including the treatment of cancer, diabetes, genetic diseases, and spinal cord injuries and for basic research that could lead to such treatments.

  • Strike the bill's criminal penalties and instead make any property, real or personal, derived from or used to commit violations of the Act subject to forfeiture to the United States.

  • Strike the bill's provisions establishing a new Commission to Promote a National Dialogue on Bioethics. The new Commission would needlessly duplicate the mission of the President's National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

The President's proposal, which in many ways is reflected in S. 1602 sponsored by Senators Feinstein and Kennedy, would prohibit any attempt to create a human being using somatic cell nuclear transfer, provide for further review of the ethical and scientific issues associated with the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer, and protect important biomedical research.

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