WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush is pressing the Senate to approve legislation that would outlaw the cloning of human beings for use in research and treatment of diseases.
Bush long has opposed human cloning. When he announced his decision in August to restrict but not forbid federal financing of so-called embryonic stem cell research, he said: "We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or creating life for our convenience."
On Wednesday, Bush was speaking to 175 doctors, scientists, lawmakers, religious activists and disabled people to mobilize bipartisan support behind a complete ban on cloning. Aides said Bush's speech would be "reflective" on the ethical issues that cloning poses.
The cloning legislation joins a growing pile of bills that Bush favors and that have passed the Republican-controlled House but stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
In recent days Bush has stepped up his calls for action on an array of bills pending in the Senate, including measures that would increase energy conservation and exploration, grant him expanded powers in negotiating trade pacts and help businesses get terrorism insurance.
Last July, the House passed a ban on all human cloning -- the production of embryos that are the genetic twin of a donor. Many in the Senate oppose using cloning to create human beings, but support using the process to create embryonic stem cells that may be used for research and the potential treatment of many diseases.
The use of embryonic stem cells is controversial because extracting the cells kills a living human embryo. Bush decided in August that federal funding would be permitted only for stem cell cultures that then existed and which were made from embryos that were to be discarded by fertility clinics.
The movement for a ban got a significant boost Tuesday when Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would support the cloning ban legislation, which the Senate is expected to debate in the weeks ahead. Though not a surprise, the announcement from Frist, a heart-transplant surgeon, is important because his views on medical topics are respected by many in Congress.
Creating a human embryo "for reason of experimentation leads to destruction of that embryo and to me that is morally unacceptable," Frist told reporters.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., told an anti-cloning rally on Capitol Hill Wednesday that a ban on human embryo cloning was "clearly a winnable issue."
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