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Oklahoma House passes cloning measure

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma House passed legislation Monday that would ban human cloning in the state but would permit cloning tissue for medical purposes, which has been the focus of national debate.

The bill's author, Rep. Opio Toure, D-Oklahoma City, said the intent of the measure is to ban any procedure that requires the harvesting of human embryos.

``Stem cell research would not be included in our definition of human cloning,'' Toure said. Toure has said there are areas of medical research where the process of cloning may be beneficial.

The measure specifically leaves the door open for the use of cell transfer technology to clone molecules, cells and tissues.

Research using embryonic stem cells has drawn opposition because they are taken from embryos that are killed in the process.

Toure's measure establishes procedures for individuals who plan to use cell transfer technology to register with the state Commissioner of Health.

Recent advances in cloning has been the focus of debate over the ethical and moral implications of creating a genetic equivalent of a twin brother or sister born later.

To date, no one has cloned a human. But scientists have cloned several animals, and last fall, researchers announced they had created a human embryo clone to provide stem cells for research.

Some scientists are cloning human embryos to provide special cells they hope to turn into disease treatments. Some fertility specialists claim they soon will attempt to clone a baby for an infertile couple.

While allowing in vitro fertilization techniques that are permitted by Oklahoma law, Toure's bill prohibits cloning techniques for infertile couples.

The measure, House Bill 2142, passed 96-0 and was sent to the Senate for debate.
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