WASHINGTON -- In the well-worn trenches of the abortion battle, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has been a reliable fighter for the unborn. By supporting a ban on federal funding for abortion and a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Hatch has argued for protecting the embryo as it grows in the womb.
But on Tuesday, the Utah Republican broke with his anti-abortion allies and threw his support to a bill that would allow scientists to create human embryos through cloning, then destroy them in the course of medical research. With the Senate vote on cloning too close to call, the support of a conservative, anti-abortion lawmaker gave a significant boost to those who want to preserve cloning as a legal technique in research.
It also showed how science has forced lawmakers to think in new ways about whether a human embryo is a human life. In essence, Hatch said, an embryo in the womb is a human being, deserving of protection. But an embryo created through cloning is not, he said, and may be destroyed in order to help find cures to disease.
Cloning for research "is pro-life and pro-family," Hatch told a news conference. "It enhances -- it does not diminish -- human life." He said that "a critical part of being pro-life is to support measures that help the living."
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