New Jersey Clone and Kill Law

NJ Clone and Kill Law. P.L. 2003, C. 203 (A2840S/1909)

The NJ law, P.L. 2003, C. 203, signed by Governor McGreevey on January 4, 2004 authorized the cloning and killing of human beings “through the embryo, fetal and newborn stages.” The bill expressly authorizes researchers to obtain “reasonable payment” for the trafficking in baby body parts from aborted cloned fetuses. The bill passed by a one vote majority in the Assembly on December 16, 2003 and a five vote majority in the Senate on December 16, 2002. See vote tallies below. The cloning method authorized in the law, “somatic cell nuclear transplantation,” is the same procedure used to clone Dolly the Sheep. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is a procedure where the nucleus from an unfertilized egg is removed (and therefore its genetic material also) and DNA taken from another donor is transfered into the egg.

The initial product of “somatic cell nuclear transfer” is a living (one-celled) cloned human embryo. The immediate intention of transferring the nucleus is precisely to produce just such an entity; one that is alive (rather than nonliving), one that is human (rather than nonhuman or animal), and one that is an embryo, an entity capable of replication into an articulated organismic whole (rather than just a somatic cell capable only of replication into more of the same cell type). This is the intended primary product of performing somatic cell nuclear transfer, whether the ultimate motive or purpose is producing a live-born child from the cloned embryo or conducting scientific research on the cloned embryo. Also the blastocyst stage that develops from this one-celled cloned embryo will be the same being, whether it is then transferred to a woman’s uterus to begin a pregnancy or is used as a source of stem cells for research and possible therapy for others.

Source: President’s Council on Bioethics, July 2002 Report.

The NJ law, A2840/S1909 claims to make cloning a crime. However, “cloning” is defined in the law in an unprecedented way. “Cloning is defined as “cultivating the cell through the egg, embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual.” This means that cloning would not occur, and no crime would be commited, before the child was “through – that is past or beyond or done with-the “newborn stage.” “Newborn is not a legal term of art, and the bills provide no definition of it.(01/07/03 Legal Analysis of A2840.S1909 from Gerard Bradley, Professor of Law at Notre Dame University, et al.).

This analysis was provided to the Assembly Health Commitee before they voted to release the bill from committee.

Bill A2840/S1909 signed into law on January 4, 2004 by Governor Jim McGreevey

See December, 2003 Assembly Vote

See December, 2002 Senate vote

Letter to Governor McGreevey from four members of the President’s Council on Bioethics concerning A2840/S1909

Letter from Law Professors analyzing A2840/S1909

Suggested Further Reading:

The Truth Behind the NJ Stem “Sell” Agenda

State of Cloning, by Kathryn Jean Lopez