A bi-partisan plan to ban reproductive, but not “therapeutic” or research cloning, will result in “the establishment of human embryo farms,” according to the National Right to Life Committee.

The bill, which falsely claims to make “human cloning a crime,” was proposed by Senators Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D, Calf) and would allow the cloning of human embryos while making it a crime to keep them alive for more than 14 days. NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson said the bill is a “step in the wrong direction” because there can be no compromise in permitting the cloning of human beings, regardless of the motivation for doing so.

The NRLC said that considering the administration’s promise to veto Hatch-Feinstein, the only reason it is being so actively pursued to is prevent a real ban from being passed.

Last year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson said, “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.”

Indeed, President Bush has urged Congress to pass a comprehensive ban on all human cloning. Congressional insiders told The Interim that a vote could go either way.

Meanwhile, there are strong bills banning cloning in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the Senate, a bill introduced by Sam Brownback (R, Kansas) and Mary Landrieu (D, Louisiana), and in the House, the bi-partisan Weldon-Stupak, which has 26 co-sponsors, both explicitly allow “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.”

Those who claim that these bills jeopardize current research are mistaken. As the NRLC points out, “Methods currently used to ‘clone’ new skin, for example, or to ‘clone’ DNA, are perfectly okay under the Brownback-Landrieu bill. Moreover, any cloning method that would produce stem cells without first producing and killing a human embryo – as some researchers have claimed that they eventually will be able to do – is explicitly permitted by this language.”

Key senators could help usher in a pro-life cloning law. The Senate committee considering cloning is chaired by Judd Gregg (R, N.H.), a co-sponsor of Brownback-Landrieu. And Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R, Tenn) recently told Fox News Sunday that, “I am opposed to any time that you create an embryo itself with the purpose being destruction, and that would include the so-called research cloning. And remember, research cloning is just that, it’s experimental. There’s been no demonstrated benefit of that to date, so I don’t think you ought to destroy life.”

Meanwhile, several states are considering their own cloning legislation. Most recently, pro-life activists were able to convince New Jersey legislators to postpone consideration of a permissive cloning statute. The New Jersey law would have permitted the use of cloned embryos and fetuses up to the moment of birth for research or tissue transplant purposes.