Sussex County Delaware

Cloning Shouldn't be Used
for Human Reproduction
 
Guest Opinion

By ROBERT L. VENABLES SR.
State Senator, 21st District, R-Laurel

Robert L. Venables Sr. is a Delaware State Senator representing the 21st Senatorial District.

Delaware Senator Robert L. Venables Sr.

With concerns about our technological abilities overstepping our wisdom, last year, I introduced legislation that would have prohibited reproductive human cloning within Delaware.

Unfortunately, due to the legislative session coming soon to a close last year, I chose to table the legislation so that it could receive an adequate amount of public hearing before it was acted on by the members of the General Assembly.

While it would probably be more ideal for such a prohibition to take place on the national level, our federal Senate failed to enact this legislation last year, just as they are apparently going to do again this year.

Since last year, we have seen events that make it even more clear that swift action needs to be taken in creating a sensible prohibition to reproductive cloning.

A bizarre fringe group calling themselves the "Raelians" and their backed company, "Clonaid" announced that they had created the world's first human clone. While in the time since they had made their shocking announcement the Raelians have provided no proof to back their claims, the media had to take their announcement seriously because this scientific threshold is on the brink of being crossed.

Regrettably, now with the right amount of money and scientists with enough knowledge, even a fringe group like the Raelians might be able to clone humans.

Even more disturbing was the recent death of Dolly, the cloned sheep, who had to be put to death due to poor health. Dolly, who had been the first cloned mammal created from an adult stem cell in 1996, had a short life filled with physical problems which included premature aging, arthritis, obesity, and a lung disease that is more common in older sheep.

Upon her death, Dr. Alan Colman, the research director involved with the team that created Dolly, commented that, "It highlights the foolishness of those who want to legalize reproductive cloning in the case of humans, it would be scandalous to go ahead, given our knowledge about the long-term effects of cloning."

While there is much to gain with the development of biotechnology, I believe we should preserve the natural order of the uniqueness and dignity of life. For these reasons, I intend to introduce legislation that will prohibit the use of biotechnology for the purpose of human reproduction.

Since last year, I have been working with the Delaware Biotechnology Institute on the language of this legislation so that we can prohibit reproductive human cloning without hindering the humane and dignified development of biotechnology with medical benefits for human beings.

As a result I have been able to secure language in my legislation that the Delaware Biotechnology Institute approves of and believes does not negatively effect the biotechnology industry.

Robert L. Venables, Sr.
State Senator, 21st District
Legislative Hall
Dover, DE 19901
Home Phone -- (302) 875-9559
Senate Phone -- (302) 744-4298; Senate Fax -- (302) 739-6890


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