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Kentucky Senate Tables Cloning Ban

March 30, 2002

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ The state Senate on Friday tabled legislation to ban human cloning, likely ending the effort after a debate over how it would affect the future of medical research.

The measure passed in the House, but supporters of the state’s top research institutions, including the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, said such a ban would prompt top researchers to leave.

No cloning research is being done at either school, though both are leading researchers in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury. Some in those fields believe advances could be gained through cloning research.

An amendment, backed by the schools, was offered to exempt medical researchers from an outright cloning ban.

Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, a Democrat who offered the amendment, had warned that if the bill passed without it, ``Kentucky, overnight, will move from one of the most promising states in terms of medical research to one of the most restrictive states.″

The bill’s core supporters, including anti-abortion legislators, said the amendment gutted the legislation, which would have imposed a maximum 10-year prison sentence or $1 million fine on anyone who performed or attempted to perform human cloning.

``I believe an embryo is a baby, and I do not believe in killing babies,″ said Sen. Elizabeth Tori, a Republican.

After a sometimes wrenching debate and showdown vote, Senate Republican leaders moved to table the bill indefinitely and the motion was approved. With only days left in the legislative session, the issue is not likely to be revived.

Federal lawmakers are poised to approve a ban on cloning for the purpose of making a baby, but the issue of whether to ban all forms of cloning is still being debated. A bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year included all cloning, but in the Senate, there is considerable opposition to a total ban.