Two US states change legal wording around ‘therapeutic cloning’Friday, 22 February, 2008
Two American states, Nebraska and Missouri, have recently seen changes to cloning legislature or proposals. And none of the changes were for the better. So, I’ll tell the ‘less bad’ news before the bad, bad news.
In Nebraska, there was a bill (LB606) which would have seen reproductive cloning banned explicitly and the use of state money (and facilities) in embryo-destructive research prohibited. It was recently changed by a state legislative committee, and now only prohibits state funding and facilities for any form of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The part about reproductive cloning was removed, by demands by pro-life groups. They were concerned about creating a distinction between embryos cloned for reproduction and those cloned for stem-cells (which, they say, is really a pseudo-distinction because the methods are the same. I agree – they should both be legal). And besides, the bill still prohibits implanting an embryo derived from SCNT into a woman’s uterus, so reproductive cloning is still prohibited. So, they removed what was essentially a tautological statement, so the proposed regulation of reproductive cloning has gone from ‘double-plus’ bad to just plain bad. (Full Story)
In Missouri, a judge rewrote the language of a ballot summary (not the ballot proposal itself). The ballot proposal seeks to adjust an amendment, approved by voters in 2006, that technically allowed therapeutic cloning. The ballot proposal seeks to prohibit all form of cloning or attempts at cloning, regardless of implantation into a woman. A ballot summary was prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, including a phrase asking voters to decide whether “to repeal the current ban on human cloning or attempted cloning and to limit Missouri patients’ access to stem cell research, therapies and cures approved by voters in November 2006.” But as soon as it was released, the organisation Cures Without Cloning (which sponsors the bill) wanted it changed. Judge Patricia Joyce agreed, and changed it to ask voters whether “to change the definition of cloning and ban some of the research as approved by voters in November 2006.” The pro-lifers thought that the language was misleading, one reason being that it implied that there was research using SCNT being undertaken in Missouri. I note that it doesn’t really say that, and that it has been changed to remove any indication of limiting access to cures and therapies, despite the fact that it actually is doing exactly that (albeit only to future cures that may have arisen). However, I do agree with the alteration to Carnahan’s phrase ‘to repeal the current ban on human cloning’ – a phrase which I can’t make sense of if the proposal was to be repeal a ban and then replace it with a more draconian one. (Full Story)