President Bush says he supports a ban on the cloning of human beings. His announcement comes as Congress considers whether or not to prohibit such research, especially in light of recent claims from scientists that cloning humans may be possible a lot sooner than previously thought. CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is tracking the moral and medical debate.
George Siedel has studied animal cloning ever since Dolly the sheep debuted back in 1997. He sees amazing possibilities but also some startling realities.
"There are defects in some of them--in lungs, in hearts, in immune systems. There are some limb deformities," says Siedel, an expert in cloning at Colorado State University.
Worried that nightmarish scenarios could result, Congress has held hearings on Capitol Hill. Among those questioned was Panos Zavos, who plans to clone humans to give infertile couples another option.
"We have no intentions to step over dead bodies or deformed babies to accomplish this," says Zavos.
Then there's "Rael," leader of a religious group that believes cloning will lead to eternal life. The group says it plans to produce a clone within a year.
To clone a human, scientists would have to take a cell from that person and insert it into an egg that's had its genetic material removed. The theoretical result: a genetically identical offspring.
Since Dolly, there have been cloned cows, pigs, goats, and mice. But for every live birth, there may be 100 embryos and fetuses that don't make it.
"Before you can successfully make a healthy baby through cloning, you'll probably have 999 deformed children and/or miscarriages," says Representative James Greenwood (R-Pennsylvania). "So the experimentation with humans isn't safe and it isn't fair."
Since President Bush is also against human cloning, a bill proposing a federal ban is likely on the way. But most agree that the march toward human clones is inevitable--if not in the United States, then elsewhere.
Congress now faces the challenge of coming up with a law that draws a line between cloning "people" and cloning "human tissue" that could be used to battle diseases like cancer and diabetes.
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