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CRS-10

Because of the current lack of federal regulation, the National Academies established in July 2004 the Committee on Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research to develop voluntary guidelines for deriving, handling and using human embryonic stem cells. The stated position of the National Academies is that there should be a global ban on human reproductive cloning and therefore the guidelines will focus onlyon therapeutic and research uses of human embryonic stem cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer.

The Committee released its “Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research” on April 26, 2005. The guidelines recommend that institutions conducting human embryonic stem cell research should establish oversight committees, including experts in the relevant areas of science, ethics and law, as well as members of the public, to review all proposed experiments. The guidelines recommend that a national panel should be established to oversee the issue in general on a continuing basis. However, the guidelines state that certain types of research should not be permitted at the present time: (1) culture of any intact embryo, regardless of derivation method, for more than 14 days; (2) the insertion of any embryonic stem cells into a human embryo or the insertion of human embryonic stem cells into a nonhuman primate embryo. In addition, animals in which human embryonic stem cells have been introduced, at any stage of development, should not be allowed to breed. The document also provides guidance on informed consent of donors and states that there should be no financial incentives in the solicitation or donation of embryos, sperm, eggs, or somatic cells for research purposes.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized in past cases certain personal rights as

being

fundamental

and

protected

from

government

interference.40

Some

legal

scholars

believe

a

ban

on

human

cloning

may

be

struck

down

by

the

Supreme

Court

because it “protected liberty.” 41

would infringe upon the right to make reproductive decisions which is under the constitutional right to privacy and the constitutional right to Other scholars do not believe that noncoital, asexual reproduction, such

as cloning, would on human cloning

be considered a fundamental right by the Supreme Court. A ban research may raise other constitutional issues: scientists’ right to

personal liberty and government limits on

free speech. In the use of cloning

the opinion of some in scientific inquiry or

legal scholars, any human reproduction

would

have

to

be

“narrowly

tailored

to

further

a

compelling

state

interest.”

42

State Laws on Cloning

As of April 18, 2006, 15 states have passed laws pertaining to human cloning. Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Virginia have

40 For further discussion of these issues and their relationship to human cloning, see CRS Report RL31422, Substantive Due Process and a Right to Clone, by Jon O. Shimabukuro.

41 L. B. Andrews, “Is There a Right to Clone? Constitutional Challenges to Bans on Human Cloning,” Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, summer 1998, pp. 643-680.

42

Ibid., p. 667.

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