Cohen has distributed a letter written by Mrs. Reagan to Hatch in which she favors "new legislation to allow the ethical use of therapeutic cloning" which might in the future protect families from sharing pain inflicted on her because of Alzheimer's disease. She does not address the New Jersey bill and obviously is unfamiliar with it.
Hatch is more responsible than any other single senator for blocking Sen. Sam Brownback's federal anti-cloning legislation, but he cannot properly be called a backer of Cohen's bill. His aides told this column that Hatch would not support any bill permitting implantation of a cloned embryo or development of a clone for more than 14 days, both of which are permitted by the New Jersey bill. As for McCain, his staff told us: "We have not endorsed any cloning bill in New Jersey."
It is even more absurd to place Tommy Thompson in Jersey's Brave New World. Asserting the president desires anti-cloning legislation, the secretary added that "the administration could not support any measure purporting to ban 'reproductive' cloning while authorizing 'research' cloning."
As the bill's contents and supporters are obscured, advocates have not encouraged full debate. When the Newark Star-Ledger blamed me for helping "stir up enough criticism to keep the bill from passing," New Jersey Right to Life asked the newspaper to print a letter to Gov. James McGreevey from four members of the President's Council asserting that the bill "threatens to make New Jersey a haven for . . . human fetal farming." The editors replied they would "pass." The issue has not been fully explored as the lame-duck Assembly takes a fateful step.