More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Senate expected to debate cloning ban, stem cells

WASHINGTON, Nov 01 (Reuters Health) - The Senate Wednesday progressed only incrementally on its fiscal 2002 spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, but fireworks are expected Thursday, when a senator says he will offer an amendment to ban human cloning.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that passed the House in July. The measure would bar both so-called "reproductive" cloning intended to produce a live birth, as well as "therapeutic cloning" intended to produce cells or tissues to be used as treatments for disease.

The cloning ban, said Brownback, as well as several other amendments he intends to offer, "are attempts to further define and move forward the debate on what it means to be human."

Other amendments Brownback said he may offer would outlaw the creation of human-animal hybrids and germ-line manipulation using animal cells.

Brownback said he is unlikely to address the stem cell research language in the bill, although he does oppose it. As approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the bill continues the existing ban on research involving human embryos, but it would also allow the president to expand funding of research on embryonic stem cells.

"This would be step one to getting (President Bush) to change his position," Brownback said.

The Bush administration is even more adamant about the stem cell language. Its official "Statement of Administration Policy" on the bill threatens a veto if the language is not changed. The statement says the Senate language "would signal a weakening of the Federal Government's commitment to protecting human embryos."

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