June 13, 2002
While not an outright ban, Senator Brownback's (R-KS) proposal to advance a two-year moratorium on therapeutic cloning has the same objective, according to the patient advocacy group CuresNow. The moratorium is an attempt to halt life-saving research already underway and to discourage our nation's brightest scientists from embarking on new and promising avenues of scientific inquiry.
According to Lauren Weissman, Executive Director of CuresNow, a moratorium on therapeutic cloning would irreparably harm America's patients and medical researchers. "Millions of Americans will lose their chance at cures to life-threatening diseases and chronic conditions, and America will lose its advantage as the leader in medical innovation. A moratorium runs counter to our nation's historical role as the world's leader in biomedical research. It will not halt life-saving research, it will simply ship it out of our country."
Senator Brownback falsely claims that other avenues of scientific pursuit are just as likely to yield life-saving cures. But, no other form of research can replicate the opportunities this work provides for unraveling the mysteries of birth defects and genetic disease or shortening the search for new drugs to treat old illnesses.
Senator Specter (R-PA), Senator Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Hatch (R-UT), and Senator Kennedy (D-MA) have, however, offered legislation that provides a rational alternative to Senator Brownback's bill. Their "Human Cloning Prohibition Act" bans reproductive cloning, but allows life-saving research to continue in a safe, regulated manner. In response to Senator Brownback's recent proposal, Senator Kennedy said, "a moratorium of a year or two may not seem like much to you and me, but it could mean the difference between life and death for a patient with Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer or many other serious disorders."
CuresNow is also concerned that a moratorium raises profound questions about the wisdom of the federal government criminalizing important, ethically responsible, life-saving research. Even in the 1970s when Congress considered a moratorium on research involving recombinant DNA, it ultimately did not chose to regulate it. The NIH and the FDA set up bodies to regulate recombinant DNA research by universities and commercial entities. This research eventually resulted in life-saving products such as human insulin, human growth hormone, and treatments for anemia, viral infections, hairy cell leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and breast cancer. These technologies improve the lives of at least 100,000 Americans each year.
CuresNow is an alliance of patients and parents of those suffering from chronic illnesses as well as leaders in the scientific, health, education, business and entertainment communities. CuresNow is opposed to human cloning, but believes therapeutic cloning is the most promising medical technology in decades.
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