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