Bill C-13, An Act Respecting Human Reproduction and Related Technologies, hangs in limbo as the federal government seems unsure of whether it has enough support to get it passed.

As a sign of its desperation to enact the reproductive technologies legislation, the government has indicated that the vote will not be a free one. It has also suggested to Liberal MP Paul Szabo (Mississauga South) that it is willing to amend the bill to address some of his concerns about a so-called ban on human cloning.

According to Szabo, C-13 only pretends to prohibit human cloning. In fact, its poor and missing definitions of technical terms are essentially loopholes that permit cloning. Hilary White, research director for Campaign Life Coalition, explained to The Interim that the bill imposes a “kill and clone” requirement, in that it technically permits human cloning, although not for reproductive purposes.

The Globe and Mail has reported that Szabo, an expert on the issue of stem cell research, has been approached by Health Minister Anne McLellan to elaborate on the concerns he has raised. White said the move is an admission that the government’s claim that C-13 bans cloning is clearly untrue.

House leader Dan Boudria has indicated that despite moral objections to the bill by members of his own party, the government may require party unity on the issue and might not allow a free vote.

White said such heavy-handedness is a sign that the Liberals don’t think they have enough votes to get C-13 passed. She said the legislation has been around through two summers – a clear indication that the government has not been able to impose it upon the country yet.

The government has not committed to holding a vote at a specific time, so the pro-life community is continuing to lobby MPs of all parties. Campaign Life Coalition is educating MPs on C-13 and stem cells by focusing on three main areas: showing that amendments considered earlier this year do not improve the bill; exposing the fact that the bill permits cloning, but requires that the human clone be destroyed before birth; and distributing to MPs information via compact discs that outlines the astonishing advances in adult stem cell therapies.

White said CLC is concerned that with the focus on same-sex “marriage” and Svend Robinson’s hate crimes bill amendments, C-13 may be forgotten by many pro-life and pro-family Canadians. She said citizens can contact their elected officials on more than one issue and stressed the importance of banning human cloning and embryonic stem cell research by repeating the words of CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas: “If this bill passes, literally hundreds of thousands of people will be quietly killed in laboratories and no one will ever know.”