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House poised to consider human cloning



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has issued a statement "unequivocally" opposing human cloning, as lawmakers prepare to vote on legislation that would ban the practice.

"The administration unequivocally is opposed to the cloning of human beings either for reproduction or research," said the statement.

"The moral and ethical issues posed by human cloning are profound and cannot be ignored in the quest for scientific discovery."

The House on Tuesday will debate two measures on cloning, which some observers see as a dress rehearsal for the coming debate over embryonic stem cell research. One, sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Florida, bans human cloning in all cases.

A competing measure, sponsored by Rep. Jim Greenwood, R-Pennsylvania, also seeks to ban human cloning but would allow cloning of human embryos for scientific research. The White House supports the Weldon bill.

"The administration is strongly opposed to any legislation that would prohibit human cloning for reproductive purposes but permit the creation of cloned embryos for research," the policy statement said.

"The administration would strongly oppose any substitute amendment that is similar or identical to the [Greenwood bill] which would permit human embryos to be created and developed solely for research purposes."

The issue of cloning and embryonic stem cell research intersect when it comes to possible uses of cloned tissue as a source of stem cells.

Some researchers have testified before Congress that clones might provide a source of stem cells and compatible DNA for patients in need of stem cell treatment.

Other proponents of stem cell research reject using clones for such purposes, but the potential has led opponents of embryonic stem cell research to warn that federal funding could lead to wider cloning experimentation.

President Bush has yet to announce whether he will support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, an issue senior aides say he continues to wrestle with as he weighs the scientific potential of the research against the moral implications of approving federal support for the destruction of human embryos.

The policy statement said the White House supports "tissue-based therapies based on research involving the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans."

The policy statement said these non-human cloning experiments "have enabled researchers to develop innovative drugs to treat research, such as breast cancer, or aid in treatment techniques for injury, such as cloning skins cells for skin grafts."






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