Illinois is on the bandwagon of legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it. Senate Bill 004, a.k.a. the Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Prohibition Act, legalizes cloning while pretending to ban it via the same verbal sleight of hand other states have used. The devil is in the details. Here is the relevant text:

Section 40. Cloning prohibited.

1 (a) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.
2 For purposes of this Section, “clone or attempt to clone a
3 human being” means to transfer to a uterus or attempt to
4 transfer to a uterus anything other than the product of
5 fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human
6 male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could
7 result in the creation of a human fetus or the birth of a human
8 being.

What is being outlawed?: cloning, or attempting to clone a human being. Notice that the drafters of the bill are using “clone” as a verb, not a noun. This means the drafters are outlawing a particular act. What is that act? They define it as the transfer of a non-fertilized “product” into a woman’s uterus. How can this be considered cloning? Even the most scientifically illiterate man on the street understands that cloning involves copying something. How does moving a “product” from one location (lab) to another location (uterus) fit the bill? Clearly something more must be involved. That “something” is what the drafters so desperately want to avoid.

Attempting to clone a human being has nothing to do with where you put some unnamed “product.” It has everything to do with copying some “product.” In this case we are talking about copying a human being. And if you copy a human being, what do you end up with? That’s right…another human being. So how is it again that this law prohibits cloning human beings?

Like other bills legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it, the intent of the researcher is integral to the definition of cloning. Rather than referring to what the scientist makes in the lab, cloning is said to be defined by what the scientist intends to do with that which he has created. Unfortunately, what a scientist intends to do with the embryos he has cloned is irrelevant. A clone is a clone is a clone, regardless of what the scientist does with them. If he freezes them, they are clones; if he dismembers them for their stem cells to be used in treating other human beings, they are still clones.

In an earlier section they explicitly affirm their intent to clone
embryos:

6 Section 5. Policy permitting research. The policy of the
7 State of Illinois shall be as follows:
8 (1) Research involving the derivation and use of human
9 embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human
10 adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell
11 nuclear transplantation, shall be permitted and the ethical and
12 medical implications of this research shall be given full
13 consideration.

What? You didn’t see the word cloning? No, you didn’t. But “somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is the scientific term used to describe the process of what is more commonly called “cloning.” By employing a scientific term unfamiliar to most people, and then later defining “cloning” in a very narrow, unscientific manner, the drafters of the bill are able to claim they are banning cloning.

Even the grammar betrays their deception. The bill says “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells…from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation.” “Somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is a process, not a thing. As such, it is not a source for obtaining stem cells; it is a means of obtaining stem cells. What is a source of stem cells? Cloned embryos, created through the process of somatic cell nuclear transplantation. That’s what the drafters were thinking, but they couldn’t say it without blowing their cover.

These lawmakers are distorting science and language for political purposes, and should be ashamed of themselves.