(RNS) -- The Bush administration is backing a broad ban that wouldprevent human cloning and the creation of cloned embryos for researchpurposes. In a presentation before a congressional subcommittee June 20, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Claude A. Allensaid a total ban on creation of human cloned embryos is necessary, TheWashington Post reported. Legislators have been considering one bill that would make it acrime to create a human cloned embryo for any reason and another thatwould prohibit embryo creation solely if there is an "intent" to developembryos into babies. But Allen said the administration is concerned that scientists mightdecide to let embryos mature into babies once they've started thecreation process. "It's too easy, too simple to cross that line," Allen said. He said President Bush will announce his position on the separatebut related issue of federal funding of human embryo cell research at alater time. Recently, the administration has heard from leaders on both sides ofthat issue. Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, havewritten to Bush encouraging him to authorize federal money for suchresearch, The New York Times reported. Hatch, an abortion opponent, told the president that experimentswith embryonic stem cells was "consistent with bedrock, pro-life,pro-family values" and raise questions that are "fundamentallydifferent" from those dealing with abortion. Collins, an abortion rights supporter, said, "Stem cell researchholds tremendous potential to treat and even cure a vast array ofdiseases and conditions," such as Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.
More than a dozen representatives of Christian groups opposingabortion wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompsonurging him to oppose research involving destruction of human embryos. "Your leadership on this most important ethical question willprovide guidance on scientific experimentation at one of the mostcritical turning points in human history," said the letter from leadersof groups including the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family,Concerned Women for America, and the Catholic Family and Human RightsInstitute.