Kass act

Cloning | Leon Kass's panel holds a high-minded debate, but Daschle Democrats will keep the issue bottled up-and don't expect a presidential complaint

Issue: "Sex, lies, & audiotape," July 27, 2002

As far as Washington journalists were concerned, the president's bioethics council's report on human cloning was a snoozer: The Lexis-Nexis journalistic database mustered less than 70 stories on the subject over the past week. (By contrast, punch in WorldCom and you get over 1,000 stories.) They should have made a bigger deal of it. The debate that produced the recommendation of at least a four-year moratorium on human cloning represented the first-and last-meaningful debate on the issue this year.

The report grandly hopes for a "national discourse" and "further democratic deliberation" during its proposed cloning moratorium. That's not likely. More than a week after the report's release, the president hasn't even publicly acknowledged it, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) opposes even a debate on legislation aimed at slowing the push for cloning.

The council itself was closely divided. Seven favored a total cloning ban. Seven opposed cloning babies but favored energetic research on cloned embryos with some government guidance, and three swing voters joined the anti-cloning group to endorse a four-year moratorium.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

That's unacceptable to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), lead sponsor of legislation green-lighting research cloning; she wants federal support for the practice, but considers no law better than a delay or a ban. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), lead sponsor of a cloning ban, told WORLD, "It would have been nice if the . . . panel would have come out 100 percent for a complete ban on cloning, but what they tried to do is noble and right."

Sen. Brownback will keep fighting, but Republicans are certain debate on a cloning ban will not come unless control of the Senate tips back to the GOP. Sen. Daschle has made that a little harder by protecting Democrats who are politically vulnerable for their liberalism on social issues, like Missouri's Jean Carnahan or Georgia's Max Cleland, from having to vote on a contentious issue like cloning.

Far from the political fray, the council's chairman, Leon Kass, said he was satisfied that the panel had answered the president's request for a civil and thorough discussion. But the White House kept its comments on the report to a decorous minimum. "We've been thanked for our efforts," Dr. Kass told WORLD, but he hadn't spoken with the president since the report was finished.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Reading the signals

    Facial recognition software may help hospitals monitor pain in children 


    Rescue rebuke

    Court agrees the government went too far in its…