February 3, 2005
A legislative panel voted Wednesday to ban state funding for human cloning.
The 7-2 vote by the House Health Committee came after a plea from Rep. Bob Stump, RPeoria, to keep the state out of the business of giving its blessing to a practice he considers morally objectionable.
Stump said if he had his way he would seek a statewide ban on the practice, no matter what the source of funds. But he said that wasn’t politically doable, because of concerns by some researchers as well as a possible veto by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
But even this version proved unacceptable to Rep. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson. She said she feared that the measure would affect more than cloning and actually interfere with other medical research.
Rep. David Bradley, D-Tucson, also voted against the measure, saying he had concerns about the bill’s definition of what could not be funded.
The measure, HB2221, is technical.
It would bar funding for any human asexual reproduction accomplished by introducing genetic material from human cells into an egg whose nuclear material has been removed "so as to produce an organism, at any stage of development, that is genetically virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human organism."
Stump said the first research being done is for "therapeutic" cloning, where someone’s own cells are reproduced to form tissue or organs to heal some medical problem. Stump said therapeutic cloning will lead to "reproductive" cloning — producing new human beings who would be genetically identical to the donor.
"Human cloning entails the degradation of human dignity and would lead to a coarsening of our culture," he said.
There also are issues of defects. Stump cited the experience of Dolly, a cloned sheep, who showed premature signs of aging and similar problems.
Stump questioned what would happen to the failures at human cloning — whether these living beings would be aborted or born, and whether, once born, they would be considered fully human.
The measure drew support from Mike Berens, a senior investigator at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix. He said, if nothing else, spending public dollars on cloning makes little fiscal sense given its limited applications.
"Human cloning for the purposes of therapy would render human life as a commodity to be traded, to be sold for stock options, through negotiations for the development of these," he said. "That has huge ramifications on the healing arts being compassion-driven."
No one spoke against the measure, which now goes to the full House.