National Right to Life
NRLC Criticizes Sen. Daschle
for Obstructing Ban on Human Cloning (June 12, 2002)
June 12, 2002 -- A spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) today criticized Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) for refusing to allow a vote without procedural gimmicks on the Brownback-Landrieu bill, which would ban the cloning of human embryos.
"A May Gallup poll found 61% of Americans opposed to cloning human embryos for research, but Senator Daschle and most Senate Democrats have once again blocked the only bill that would really ban human cloning and human embryo farms," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. The Democrats currently control the Senate by a single seat.
On June 12, Daschle's lieutenant, Majority Whip Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv.), objected on Daschle's behalf to a request by Brownback for a vote under a straightforward procedure. "It is clear that on the issue of cloning, the objective of the Senate Democrat majority is to obstruct the will of the vast majority of the American people, a bipartisan majority in the House and the President," Brownback said. "We will seek all possible avenues in our attempt to stop human cloning and get the current leadership to take this issue up fairly."
On July 31, 2001, the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban the cloning of human embryos, 265-162. Since then, despite urgings from President Bush to pass the same ban, Daschle and most Senate Democrats have blocked identical legislation in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). They have instead pushed for legislation -- sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and others -- that would allow the cloning of any number of human embryos, and put the FBI and other federal agencies in charge of ensuring that no cloned embryo survives. NRLC and other pro-life groups regard such a government-enforced "clone and kill" policy not as a compromise or halfway measure, but as a big step in the wrong direction.
The Specter-Feinstein-Hatch bill backed by Daschle "would allow human embryo farms to open for business, and give the FBI the ethically indefensible job of trying to make sure that every cloned human embryo ends up dead," Johnson said.
Yesterday, Senator Brownback indicated that he would seek a vote on a two-year version of the ban passed by the House. Johnson said that while NRLC strongly supports the House-passed bill, Brownback's proposal "would have been a big step in the right direction, but Daschle has manipulated procedure to make sure that the ban would not pass even if a majority supported it. Daschle insisted on a procedure that would give maximum advantage to a phony ban that was crafted to please the powerful biotechnology industry lobby, rather than to really ban human cloning. Senator Brownback was right to reject Daschle's rigged arrangement."
In May 15 testimony submitted to a House subcommittee, the Justice Department said that the Specter-Feinstein-Hatch proposal to allow the cloning of human embryos and then prohibit the transfer of such embryos into a uterus could not be enforced and raised "extremely serious legal, moral, and practical issues." The Justice Department testimony and other key documents on the human cloning legislation are posted at http://nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/Index.html