Hatch-Feinstein Bill Gives Green Light to Human
WASHINGTON (Feb. 5, 2003) -- A bill being introduced today in
Congress, falsely labeled as a bill to make "human cloning a crime,"
actually "would give a green light to the establishment of human
embryo farms," said a spokesman for the National Right to Life
Committee (NRLC). The bill, to be proposed by Senators Orrin Hatch
(R-Utah), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), and others, would permit the
cloning of human embryos, and reportedly make it a crime to keep
any such embryo alive past two weeks of age.
"This bill doesn't really ban any human cloning -- it bans human
clone survival, which is a radically different thing," said NRLC
Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "This bill would give a
green light to the establishment of what President Bush has called
human embryo farms. It is incorrect to say that we think it does
not go far enough -- rather, it is a step in the wrong direction.
It does not represent common ground, and it will not become law."
When very similar legislation was proposed last year by the same
group of senators, it was criticized as unworkable by the Justice
Department. Moreover, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy
Thompson sent a letter to Senator Brownback warning that such
a bill would face a presidential veto. Thompson wrote, "The President
does not believe that 'reproductive' and 'research' cloning should
be treated differently, given that they both require the creation,
exploitation, and destruction of human embryos . . . the Administration
could not support any measure that purported to ban 'reproductive'
cloning while authorizing 'research' cloning, and I would recommend
to the President that he veto such a bill." See www.nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/ThompsontoBrownback.pdf
In his January 28 State of the Union address, President Bush repeated
his past calls for Congress to approve legislation to ban all
human cloning. The President warned in an April 10, 2002 speech
that unless such legislation is made law, human "embryo farms"
may begin operation in the United States.
The true cloning ban supported by the President has been reintroduced
as the Brownback-Landrieu bill (S. 245) and the Weldon-Stupak
bill (H.R. 234). The Brownback/Weldon legislation bans the cloning
of human embryos, but explicitly permits any cloning of human
cells (including stem cells) or tissues that is accomplished without
creating and killing a human embryo. For citations in which the
bioethics panels under both Presidents Clinton and Bush, NIH,
and prominent pro-cloning researchers have explicitly acknowledged
that somatic cell nuclear transfer will create a human embryo,
In contrast with the Brownback/Weldon bills, the Hatch-Feinstein
bill does not restrict the creation of cloned members of the species
Homo sapiens. Instead, the Hatch-Feinstein bill would make it
a crime to allow such a cloned human embryo to survive past two
weeks of age. Under Hatch-Feinstein, federal law enforcement would
be given the unethical responsibility of seeking the destruction
of every cloned human embryo.
Johnson dismissed as "transparent evasions" various statements
by the bill's sponsors that their legislation would permit research
only on "unfertilized eggs" that could not become "human beings."
"Cloning is, by definition, reproduction without sexual fertilization,
so every cloned mammal alive today is unfertilized," Johnson noted.
"If an human embryo created by cloning instead of fertilization
is implanted in a womb, is born, and lives to be eighty, she will
still be unfertilized -- but she will be human. NRLC believes
that every member of the human species should be recognized as
a human being with intrinsic human rights, regardless of the circumstances
of his or her creation."
Some of those who say that clones are not really "human" because
they are unfertilized may not have considered the ominous implications
of their argument. In a press release dated February 5, 2002,
Senator Hatch said, "No doubt somewhere, some -- such as the Raelians
-- are trying to make a name for themselves and are busy trying
to apply the techniques that gave us Dolly the Sheep to human
beings. Frankly, I am not sure that human being would even be
the correct term for such an individual heretofore unknown in
As Slate.com columnist Will Saletan commented ("Killing Eve,"
December 31, 2002), "The first cloned baby -- Eve or whoever comes
after her -- won't be fertilized. If fertilization is a prerequisite
to humanity, as Hatch and Feinstein suggest, that baby will never
be human. You can press the pillow over her face and walk away."
Last year, researchers reported harvesting tissue from cloned
cows at six and eight weeks of fetal development, and from cloned
mice at the newborn stage, in what were widely reported as breakthroughs
for so-called "therapeutic cloning." Already, some policymakers
are opening the door to "fetus farming" with human clones. The
New Jersey legislature appears to be close to giving final approval
to a bill that would permit cloned humans to be grown through
any stage of fetal development, or even to birth, to obtain tissues
for transplantation, as long as they are not kept alive past the
"newborn" stage. (SB 1909, as amended) Four members of the President's
Council on Bioethics wrote to Gov. James McGreevey to warn about
the bill's radical implications. See www.nationalreview.com/document/document020303c.asp