On Wednesday night, before a packed Statehouse gallery, the Iowa legislature held public hearings on an issue that has spawned debate all across the country. The three-hour proceedings on human cloning illustrated just how divided Iowans are. Most of the scheduled speakers favored overturning the state's human cloning ban, but they were clearly not representative of the crowded audience who voiced strong opposition to the bill.

While researchers insisted that the law would promote embryonic stem cell research, not human cloning, critics point out that the bill would not only promote human cloning but would legally protect it. State Senator Pat Ward (R-West Des Moines) says the repeal is "not needed, period" because stem cell research without cloning is already happening.

Although scientists argued that the current cloning ban hinders Iowa's ability to treat disease, one biotech executive disagreed, saying, "The fact that we're located in Iowa has not hurt our ability to do business with other scientists... [even under] Iowa law." In an effort to expose this deceitful "stem cell" bill, the Iowa Right to Life Committee and Catholic-based Fidelis have launched a radio campaign to educate citizens before today's vote. In neighboring Kansas, the House has introduced a bill that forbids the government from funding human cloning research.

Unlike measures elsewhere, this version accurately defines cloning in the terms used by the President's Council on Bioethics. The state's scientists are outraged by the language because they fear that the reality of the procedure will deter voters from supporting "progressive" research.