The Knesset plenum .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Human cloning will be illegal until 2020, after a law prohibiting the practice – should the technology become available – passed a final vote Monday night.
The bill, which passed 31-2, prohibits any technology by which a human can be cloned, instead of specifying cloning methods.
The Knesset Science and Technology Committee discussed the bill, which is aimed at preventing getting around rules using new technologies that were not mentioned in the original legislation on Sunday.
During the discussions, committee chairman MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said the panel was keeping apace with the most advanced research that could theoretically make it possible to clone humans as was the sheep named Dolly.
“We are differentiating between research and experimentation on humans and cloning. Our desire is to promote medical research and advance it [for promoting human health] as much as possible,” he said.
Talia Agmon, a senior deputy to the Health Ministry’s legal adviser, said the law was originally legislated in 1999, when it prohibited human cloning outright.
“Because it involved a developing scientific field, it was legislated only temporarily, and we are now giving it an addition definition. The temporariness greatly contributes to the continuing discussion, and we are all the time looking at developments occurring in the world,” she said.
Prof. Nissim Benvenisty, head of the Stem Cell Center of the Hebrew University, said the renewed prohibition is more forceful, and that “we must have a finger on the pulse of new technologies.”
He noted that the most advanced state of human cloning has included a five-day embryo, but it was not inserted into the uterus “because this is forbidden. The serious problems are safety, as they affect the fetus. Most people think that we will take a human and copy him, but science things about using fetal cells to repair diseased tissues. I don’t see cloning as copying an adult, but of creating a new fetus without diseases.”
The HU professor said he supports a human-cloning ban for ethical reasons, but believes discussions of the topic should continue.