More MS news articles for May 2002

US Senate to delay cloning, stem cell debate

2002-05-15 16:17:07 -0400
Reuters Health

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The US Senate will probably again delay a contentious debate about embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, missing a late-May target date, Majority Leader Tom Daschle said on Tuesday.

Daschle said the Senate had spent more time than he had anticipated on energy and trade legislation, leaving too little time to bring up cloning legislation before the Memorial Day congressional recess. The fate of the legislation is uncertain, with some senators still undecided or at least unannounced.

"I think we're probably going to have to pick up where we left on stem cell research sometime after we get back," Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, told reporters.

While lawmakers across the political spectrum are strongly opposed to reproductive cloning, there is division on whether therapeutic cloning--with the goal of producing cells to be used in therapy rather than an entire organism--should be allowed.

The debate is being heavily lobbied and is the source of a number of emotional advertising campaigns. The issue is expected to play a role in campaigns in states with close votes in this congressional election year.

The House of Representatives last year passed a bill, strongly backed by President Bush and anti-abortion groups, that would ban all types of human cloning. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. However, the Senate debate has been put off several times.

Competing legislation sponsored by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania would outlaw reproductive cloning, but would allow therapeutic cloning.

Foes of cloning say it is immoral to create an embryo only to destroy it, and say it could lead to a society in which, as Bush put it in a speech last month, "human beings are grown for spare body parts and children are engineered to custom specifications."

But advocates of therapeutic cloning say it is a promising avenue of stem cell research that could lead to treatments for a wide range of diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and cancer.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited