When is a clone not a clone? New TV advertisements from advocacy groups on both sides of the biotechnology debate seek to sway the vote for Senate bill 1899, the passage of which would ban the use of cloned human embryos in medical research.

The first ad was sponsored by Cures Now (read its mission statement), which supports therapeutic research using embryos that exactly replicate donor DNA. Its "Harry and Louise" ad, which aired last week, asserts that the new Senate bill revolves around research that is "not cloning...[it] uses an unfertilized egg and a skin cell."

The second ad, which will air in coming weeks, features "Harriet and Louis" discussing the original ad. "Their ad says they're only using a human egg and a skin cell," says the husband. "That's how you make a clone," responds the wife. The ad was released by Stop Human Cloning, a group chaired by 'Weekly Standard' editor William Kristol.

Advocates of therapeutic cloning favor the creation of embryos for medical purposes via somatic cell nuclear transfer, but oppose the implantation of these embryos in wombs. The somatic cell nuclear transfer technique removes the nucleus from a recipient's skin cell and places it into an unfertilized egg cell that has had its nucleus removed.

  • Watch the "Harry and Louise" ad that started it all (Windows Media Player required) or read about it.

  • Listen to 'Stop Human Cloning's' response ad (free RealPlayer required) or read the transcript.

  • Read a William Kristol essay arguing against a distinction between "reproductive cloning" and "research cloning."

  • Read an interview with Leon Kass, head of President Bush's Bioethics Committee.

  • What do you believe? Talk with other Beliefnet members about therapeutic cloning.
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