Bush Prods Senate to Adopt Ban on All Cloning
From Major Garrett,
CNN White House Correspondent

April 10, 2002 Washington, D.C. (CNN) -- President Bush on Wednesday pressed the Senate to forbid the cloning of human embryos either for research or reproductive purposes, saying any reason for human cloning would be unethical. "Anything other than a total ban on human cloning would be unethical," he said in a speech at the White House. "Research cloning would contradict the most fundamental principle of medical ethics that no human life should be exploited or extinguished for the benefit of another."

Bush issued a call last year against cloning human embryos, and Wednesday he built on that call, arguing that other forms of biomedical research offer greater promise without the moral objections raised by cloning. Bush endorsed legislation sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback, R-KA, and Mary Landrieu, D-LA, that would make it a Federal crime to create a cloned human embryo. The bill has 29 Senate co-sponsors but Landrieu, running for re-election this year, is the only Democrat to sign onto the measure.

Identical legislation passed the House last year by a vote of 265-162, but the Senate is far more divided than the House on the cloning issue. "Our children are gifts to be loved and protected, not products to be designed and manufactured," Bush said. "Allowing cloning would be taking a significant step toward a society in which human beings are grown for spare body parts and children are engineered to custom specifications -- and that's not acceptable."

A bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-MA, and Arlen Specter, R-PA, is backing legislation that would ban human cloning, but allow for the creation of cloned embryos for the express purpose of scientific research. The plans to formally introduce that legislation Wednesday were canceled however, after lawmakers asked Kennedy for more time to review the legislation.

Sources told CNN on Wednesday that Utah Republican Orrin Hatch may join supporters as well. Despite his conservative anti-abortion views, Hatch came out last year in favor of Federal funding for stem-cell research because of its potential for aiding medical advances.

"There is resolute, determined, universal opposition to cloning to the creation of human beings," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD. "We differ strongly, however, in the need to allow science and research to cure disease such as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. That's where the fissure is. That's where the break is -- the chasm. We believe we need to continue that research." But Bush made clear he didn't want any exceptions and called on the Senate not to allow any kind of human cloning. The president was joined at the White House for his speech by individuals who might benefit from future tissue research from cloned embryos.

Among those invited were Jim Kelly, who was paralyzed in an auto accident and had once supported embryonic stem cell research; Steve McDonald, a New York City police officer who became a paraplegic after being wounded in the line of duty in 1986; and Joni Tata, a quadriplegic who was injured in a childhood diving accident. She has organized an evangelical ministry for victims of spinal cord injuries and has previously served on a Presidential Commission on Disabilities. All three met with Bush before the speech. "We told him, 'Let's roll'," Tata said.