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Paralyzed Actor Christopher Reeve Criticizes Congress' Inaction on Therapeutic Cloning - 2002-06-16

A leading advocate of therapeutic cloning says he is disappointed the U.S. Senate apparently will not consider proposed laws concerning human cloning.

Confined to a wheelchair following a horseback riding accident seven years ago, actor and activist Christopher Reeve has been campaigning on behalf of therapeutic-cloning legislation.

Appearing on the ABC television program This Week, Mr. Reeve said he is not happy with Congress's failure to act on legislation concerning cloning.

"No, no that is a terrible thing because the practice will go on unregulated, uncontrolled," he said. "Also, what will happen if no action is taken is our best scientists will go overseas. We will once again lose our preeminence."

Mr. Reeve says at one time everyone was afraid of recombinant DNA technology, but today knowledge of the human genome has led to many new treatments and cures. As for therapeutic cloning, Mr. Reeve says he would like to see strict government controls and funding.

Two bills before the U.S. Senate have stalled on parliamentary maneuvering. The one supported by Mr. Reeve would allow scientists to create human embryos for the purpose of developing a source of stem cells in research to seek cures for disabilities and diseases, such as paralysis and Parkinson's.

Therapeutic cloning produces embryos that are a rich source of stem cells, which are master cells that can be coaxed to turn into any kind of cell in the body. Under the bill, the cloned embryos would not be implanted in humans.

The other cloning bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, would ban all research involving human embryos. President George W. Bush supports this measure.