(RNS) Conservative Christian leaders hailed the passage of the Human Cloning Prohibition Act by the House on Tuesday, saying the vote supported "human dignity" and upheld moral values.

The comprehensive ban, passed 265-162, would prevent cloning, including the creation of cloned human embryos for stem-cell research. That research is controversial because it requires the destruction of embryos but potentially could lead to new treatments for a number of diseases.

Cardinal William Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, was among those praising the vote. He urged the Senate to approve the legislation.

"By approving a law against human cloning, Congress will send a clear signal that we are not merely the victims of technical advance, that we can limit and direct our technological powers to serve and not demean human dignity," Keeler said in a statement.

Roberta Combs, executive vice president of the Christian Coalition of America, also welcomed the vote.

"America rejects science without values attached -- we still have morals and morality prevailed today," she said in a statement.

Family Research Council President Ken Connor said of the vote: "This is a major victory for the sanctity of human life. The bipartisan vote in the House ... has sent Frankenstein packing."

The president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which opposed the ban's effect on research, said if the legislation becomes

law, the progress of new medical treatments will be reversed. In a statement, Carl B. Feldbaum called on the Senate to consider the medical benefits and "to separate the technology's therapeutic use from its use for human reproductive cloning, a concept the biotechnology industry finds to be repugnant and unsafe."

President Bush, who has yet to make a decision about federal funding of stem-cell research, issued a statement commending the House action.

"The moral issues posed by human cloning are profound and have implications for today and for future generations," Bush said. "We must advance the promise and cause of science, but must do so in a way that honors and respects life."

In a separate but related matter, a panel of the Japanese Cabinet approved guidelines Wednesday for stem-cell research that would only involve embryos discarded from fertility treatments. The move is expected to be formally approved by the Science and Technology Agency later in August, the Associated Press reported.

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