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Press Conference with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS); Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

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Location: Washington, DC


Press Conference with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS); Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

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SEN. BROWNBACK: We want to thank you for joining us today. Today Senator Landrieu and myself and a total of 28 co-sponsors, along with Senator DeMint that's here with us today are introducing the human cloning prohibition act. We will be putting this in this Congress. It's been introduced in prior Congresses. It is a key part of the bioethical debate that we're having -- taking place in this country.

I'd say just as a very clear comment, we are all for cures and everybody is for cures of ailments that are affecting human society, that are affecting people in this country and around the world. But in so doing, we should not turn people into property. We should not turn the human species into commodities and spare parts. In that process we must maintain the dignity of every human being from the earliest stages to the latest stages of life and no matter where they're located or who they are.

What our prohibition does is recognize that inherent dignity of every human being, regardless of how they're created, and say that this person has value and is special and should not be used as a research animal, should not be used as a commodity, should not be created for spare parts. And I'm fearful that in the great intent that people have in moving forward with human cloning that what they're failing to do is to look at the human species as having inherent dignity and something that's worth standing up for and worth fighting for, instead -- in looking for cures, turning people into property and into research animals and spare parts.

I also want to point out one other thing: that if human cloning is to move forward in the United States -- and we all are opposed to this taking place, but if it does -- you're going to have to originate a number of eggs from women across the United States if not across the world -- turning women into virtual factories in producing human eggs for human cloning in specific cases. This isn't the way we want to move forward as a society. Do we want to see women manipulated or paid as production animals in this country? That's not something we want to see taking place. And yet that would be required if human cloning were to move forward. It's wrong to do it. It's wrong to see that taking place as well.

I would urge my colleagues to join us in this effort. We will be bringing these issues to the floor when stem cells are debated. And I would urge my colleagues to support this full-scale ban on human cloning.

I'd like to turn to my colleague now from Louisiana, Senator Landrieu, who has been a co-sponsor of this legislation from the very beginning and continues to this Congress.

Senator Landrieu.

SEN. LANDRIEU: Thank you.

Senator Brownback and I may have different views about stem cell research -- and that debate will take place sometime in the Senate in the near future -- but we are in complete agreement on the need to ban human cloning, which is very different than stem cell research and the procedures used to try to find cures for diseases.

Human cloning should be illegal. It is immoral, and there is a clear line that can be drawn to stop human cloning -- not just reproductive cloning, but destructive research cloning. It is not necessary to create identical human being for the purpose of experimentation on human beings. And I believe that ethics should and can guide science. It has been a question that has been asked and answered throughout time. It will continue to have to be asked and answered in the time remaining we have on this earth. And ethics should guide science. And in this case, I believe it is -- should be clear that creating human life for the sole purpose -- the sole purpose -- of destroying it is immoral and it should be illegal. And there are other issues related to stem cell research which we can debate, but there should be no doubt about human cloning.

So that is why our bill will be a part of this debate. I hope that whatever the outcome is with stem cell research that we can find a way to pass a complete ban on human cloning to make clear that this should be illegal.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Senator DeMint?

SEN. DEMINT: Jim DeMint, South Carolina. I want to commend Senator Brownback, Senator Landrieu on introducing this bill and forcing us as a Congress to focus on the difference between scientific breakthroughs, medical cures, and crossing ethical boundaries.

Senator Brownback made clear that our purpose is to promote cures and medical breakthroughs, and we know that we can do that without crossing that ethical boundary. That's the debate that we need to have. We will promote stem cell research and we will promote various types of cures that do not kill a human being -- a human embryo. And we see through the medical research that's being done now that we can do that. And it just -- it makes no sense at this point to cross an ethical boundary that we don't need to cross when we see all the potential for human cures and medical breakthroughs in front of us without violating that ethical boundary.

So we'll open it for questions now. And I, again, thank both of the senators.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Any questions you may have. Yes, sir.

Q Senator Brownback.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Yeah?

Q How do you foresee this legislation playing a role in the stem cell debate?

SEN. BROWNBACK: I think it -- the legislation itself will set the clear marker of what is a human cloning ban and what is not a human cloning ban. That's been one of the big debate features around the country is people -- you saw this come up in the Missouri debate -- where people who are promoting a clone-and-kill bill were promoting it as a cloning ban when it was not.

This is a human cloning ban. It is a ban on the creation of humans for purposes of research, therapeutic or reproductive. At any point you're creating a human life, and I think this will help in that clarity of what is a human cloning ban and what is not.

It's also, I think, a clear debate about how is it we should treat fellow humans? And that's what Senator Landrieu's point is is that while she looks at the issue on embryonic stem cells somewhat differently, we both agree -- and I think we should all agree -- you shouldn't create humans for research purposes.

Yes, sir?

Q Do you think was similar misinformation in Iowa? The legislature there had a similar bill.

SEN. BROWNBACK: I do. And I was just in Iowa. I'm fairly frequently there.

It's -- I think we should at least have a fair debate about what we're debating. And too often, the human cloning debate is -- I refer to it as human cloning -- it's referred to as SCNT -- Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer -- and if you ask people, "Well, what is that?" well, they won't use the "C" word, the "cloning" word, but that's the very same procedure that created Dolly the sheep that is being used to create human embryos or human clones. It is cloning, even if you want to call it another name. And it is a clone that they are proposing to create, even if they are not allowing the implantation of it. It is a human embryo that has been created by a cloning process.

And that same misuse of language is what's taken place in the recent Iowa debate as it did in Missouri. And it's interesting -- once people get to know what's really taking place in Missouri, while we lost the vote -- very close -- it was 50.3 to 49.7, and our side -- the anti-cloning side was outspent 15 to one -- we still almost won that debate, and I believe the debate will be back, and I believe we'll win it on a return try when the clarity of what it is we're actually talking about comes forward.

It's important to get this as a clear debate.

Q Senator, what's your legislative strategy on the stem cell debate? I mean, it looks like it will pass the Senate again. How do you try to stop it there, and how do you work with the White House to try to -- (off mike)?

SEN. BROWNBACK: I'd let Senator Landrieu comment if she'd like to, but I think the viewpoint that I have -- the viewpoint that I have at this point in time is that I believe that the White House is going to veto this legislation. I strongly encourage the White House to veto this legislation, and that's what the president has said. This legislation is not going to move forward, and we'll be able to sustain a presidential veto, I believe, in the Senate, and I believe it will be able to be sustained in the house.

And if I could add to this -- and I'm going to bring this out a lot on the floor debate, and you heard Senator DeMint mention this as well -- we all want cures and we do not need to cross these ethical boundaries to create cures. We are now finding stem cells in the amniotic fluid, and they are pluripotent. They are malleable into many forms. We have now got over 70 different types of human maladies being treated with adult stem cells, in human, in clinical trials today. We now have -- we have cord blood banking, and cord blood is being -- is a rich source of stem cells, and that is moving forward. And we need to move forward with placenta banking as well, and probably in the future amniotic fluid banking, as a way of maintaining these rich sources of pluripotent stem cells.

The other side is also having difficulty on the human embryonic stem cell research, and human embryonic stem cells create tumors. That is showing up in all of literature. It showed up in the fetal tissue debate.

So my point is, is if we want to cure people, if that's our objective here, we have an abundant way of doing that that crosses no ethical boundaries in anybody's book. And why not pursue that rather than going into these highly ethically charged areas? And I'll be putting those debate points forward.

Thank you very much for joining us.

SEN. LANDRIEU: Thank you.


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