Legislature Prepares for Clone Wars

By: Chris Hunt
By: Chris Hunt

Lawmakers are scheduled to debate Wednesday on a bill that would ban human cloning for either therapeutic or research purposes. Pro-life groups are strongly supporting the ban. The bill will prevent any state-funded lab from using a cloned human embryo for any purpose. Some researchers have expressed interest in using cloned human tissue to create stem cells that are used in efforts to develop medications to cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

"We have a situation with human cloning where distinct new human life is created just for the purpose of killing it, harvesting it for its cells and tissue," says Nebraska Right to Life spokesperson Julie Schmit-Albin.

Lawmakers expect plenty of debate.

"I would speculate there will be some vigorous debate just based on the basic issue of when does life begin," commented Gering Senator Adrian Smith. Smith is a co-sponsor of the ban.

Opponents of the ban believe pro-life groups want to use the clone ban to create a legal weapon to eventually target Roe vs. Wade, the court ruling that legalized abortion rights. And other opponents simply don't want strict limits on research in Nebraska, says Lincoln Senator Chris Beutler.

"There's an enormous potential here for good that we should not ignore, in my opinion," he adds.

Debate is scheduled for Wednesday morning. It may face another delay, as lawmakers quibble over an ethanol subsidy bill that is scheduled right before the clone debate. The ethanol argument failed to end Tuesday and many senators believe it will not be easily settled, meaning the cloning bill could be delayed until Thursday.

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