WASHINGTON, Aug 1, 2001 ( – Late yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives approved, 265-162, a bill to prohibit the creation of human embryos by cloning. The bill makes human cloning a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and, for those caught cloning for commercial purposes, a fine of at least $1 million. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support: 63 Democrats joined 200 Republicans and 2 independents to back the bill. A similar bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Human Cloning Prohibition Act (H.R. 2505) was sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fl.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.). Prior to passing the bill, the House first rejected, 178-249, a competing measure (“substitute amendment”) proposed by Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.), which would have allowed embryo production for the purpose of research. This measure was backed by the bio-tech industry lobby. The Greenwood bill would have made it a crime to implant a research clone in a woman's womb and, thus, was tagged the “clone and kill” bill by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

President Bush issued a statement of support following the vote. “The moral issues posed by human cloning are profound and have implications for today and for future generations. Today's overwhelming and bipartisan House action to prohibit human cloning is a strong ethical statement, which I commend. We must advance the promise and cause of science, but must do so in a way that honors and respects life,” said Bush.