Thursday, February 27, 2003

Dolly the sheep is dead, but the political controversy she engendered lives in the House of Representatives, where lawmakers are expected on Thursday to pass a bill making human cloning a crime.

The Republican-backed measure would outlaw cloning experiments — or, more precisely, the scientific procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer — either for baby making or medical research. Scientists who cloned human embryos would face up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The bill would also prohibit the importing of medical therapies derived from cloning research.

--New York Times

Read that last sentence again. If these guys get their way, it won't merely be illegal to do research of this kind in the U.S. It will be illegal in America to buy or sell drugs that were developed this way elsewhere. The world will have access to these drugs, but Americans will have to go overseas to get them, and importing them will be a crime.

Surely this bill is too extreme to become law. Yet

The bill is nearly identical to legislation that passed the House in the last Congress by more than 100 votes in July 2001, and it has the strong support of President Bush....

The Senate voted once, in 1998, to reject a broad cloning ban, and last year, the Democratic-controlled Senate would not take up the bill passed by the House. That will change now that Republicans are in charge.

We're not a theocracy yet, not by a long shot. But it's not for lack of trying.

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