[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book I)]
[March 4, 1997]
[Pages 230-233]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Announcing the Prohibition on Federal Funding for Cloning of 
Human Beings and an Exchange With Reporters
March 4, 1997

    The President. Good morning. I'm glad to be joined this morning by 
the Vice President; Secretary Shalala; Dr. Harold Varmus, the head of 
NIH; Dr. Harold Shapiro, the president of Princeton and the Chairman of 
our Bioethics Advisory Commission; and Dr. Jack Gibbons, the President's 
adviser on science and technology, all of whom know a lot about and care 
a lot about this issue we are discussing today.
    The recent breakthrough in animal cloning is one that could yield 
enormous benefits, enabling us to reproduce the most productive strains 
of crop and livestock, holding out the promise of revolutionary new 
medical treatments and cures, helping to unlock the greatest secrets of 
the genetic code. But like the splitting of the atom, this is a 
discovery that carries burdens as well as benefits.
    Science often moves faster than our ability to understand its 
implications. That is why we have a responsibility to move with caution 
and care to harness the powerful forces of science and technology so 
that we can reap the benefit while minimizing the potential danger.
    This new discovery raises the troubling prospect that it might 
someday be possible to clone human beings from our own genetic material. 
There is much about cloning that we still do not know. But this much we 
do know: Any discovery that touches upon human creation is not simply a 
matter of scientific inquiry, it is a matter of morality and 
spirituality as well.
    My own view is that human cloning would have to raise deep concerns, 
given our most cherished concepts of faith and humanity. Each human life 
is unique, born of a miracle that reaches beyond laboratory science. I 
believe we must respect this profound gift and resist the temptation to 
replicate ourselves. At the very least, however, we should all agree 
that we need a better understanding of the scope and implications of 
this most recent breakthrough. Last week I asked our National Bioethics 
Advisory Commission, headed by President Harold Shapiro of Princeton, to 
conduct a thorough review of the legal and the ethical issues raised by 
this new cloning discovery and to recommend possible actions to prevent 
its abuse, reporting back to me by the end of May.
    In the meantime, I am taking further steps to prevent human cloning. 
The Federal Government currently restricts the use of Federal funds

[[Page 231]]

for research involving human embryos. After reviewing these 
restrictions, our administration believes that there are loopholes that 
could allow the cloning of human beings if the technology were 
developed. Therefore, today I am issuing a directive that bans the use 
of any Federal funds for any cloning of human beings. Effective 
immediately, no Federal agency may support, fund, or undertake such 
    Of course, a great deal of research and activity in this area is 
supported by private funds. That is why I am urging the entire 
scientific and medical community, every foundation, every university, 
every industry that supports work in this area, to heed the Federal 
Government's example. I'm asking for a voluntary moratorium on the 
cloning of human beings until our Bioethics Advisory Commission and our 
entire Nation have had a real chance to understand and debate the 
profound ethical implications of the latest advances.
    As we gain a fuller understanding of this technology, we must 
proceed not just with caution but also with a conscience. By insisting 
that not a single taxpayer dollar supports human cloning and by urging a 
moratorium on all private research in this area, we can ensure that as 
we move forward on this issue, we weigh the concerns of faith and family 
and philosophy and values, not merely of science alone.
    Thank you very much.

1996 Campaign Financing

    Q. Mr. President, how do you think the Vice President did in his 
rebuttal yesterday, and do you agree with him that you two are in a 
separate category in terms of fundraising from Federal property?
    The President. Well, I agree with--number one, I thought he did very 
well, and I agree with the statement he made, and I agree that what he 
did was legal. But I also agree with the decision that he made.
    I would remind you that we knew we had a very stiff challenge. We 
were fighting a battle not simply for our reelection but over the entire 
direction of the country for years to come and the most historic 
philosophical battle we've had in America in quite a long time over the 
direction of the budget, over our commitment to education, over whether 
we would dismantle large chunks of our environmental regulations and our 
public health regulations. It was a significant thing for America, and 
we knew that we were going to be outspent and outraised, but we knew we 
had to do everything we could to at least be competitive enough to get 
our message out. In fact, that is what happened. We were outspent and 
outraised by more than $200 million, but thanks to the Vice President's 
efforts and those of thousands of others and a million small donors, we 
were able to get our message out.
    Q. But did you overdo it in a sense that now you're regretting, 
obviously--you must be--all the things that have happened since then?
    The President. The only thing I regret--and I regret this very much, 
as I have said--is that a decision was made, which I did not approve of 
or know about, to stop the rigorous review of checks coming in to the 
Democratic Committee so that some funds were accepted which should not 
have been accepted. I regret that very much. And I have said that I 
feel--as the titular head of the Democratic Party, I feel responsible 
for that. I think all of us in the line of command are. And I was very 
proud of Governor Romer and Mr. Grossman and the entire Democratic 
Committee. When they made a full accounting, they went over all the 
checks, they did something as far as I know no party has done in modern 
history, and they gave back money that was not only clearly illegal but 
that was questionable, and they're going on. I regret that very much, 
because that never should have happened in the first place.
    For the rest, I think the Vice President said he thought that some 
changes were in order, but I don't regret the fact that we worked like 
crazy to raise enough money to keep from being rolled over by the 
biggest juggernaut this country had seen in a very long time. And I 
think it would have been a very bad thing for the American people if 
that budget had passed, if their plans to dramatically dismantle the 
environmental protections and the public health protections the country 
had passed, and I am glad we stood up to it. I'm glad we fought the 
battles of '95 and '96, and I'm glad it came out the way it did. And we 
had to be aggressive and strong within the law, and I'm very proud of 
what the Vice President did.
    Q. Don't you think it puts the Vice President in a vulnerable----

Human Cloning

    Q. Mr. President, what is the extent of your order today? How much 
funds--do you know

[[Page 232]]

how much funds were being spent toward this human cloning, if any?
    The President. We attempted previously to have a ban on this, going 
back to '94, I believe. The nature of the new discovery raised the 
prospect that the technology was not covered specifically by the nature 
of the ban. So as far as I know, nothing is going on in Government-
funded research. I just want to make sure that we keep it that way, 
because our research dollars are spread all across the country in 
different institutions.
    With regard to the private sector, let me say that our staff here in 
the White House has been in touch with a number of people in the biotech 
industry, and they seem to be glad that we called and anxious to 
participate in a moratorium until we think through the implications of 
    I mean, I imagine a lot of you, not as journalists but in your own 
private homes, have sat around talking about this discovery in the last 
few days. I know we have in our home. And I just think that we need the 
best minds that we can bring to bear and the distinguished people on the 
bioethics advisory committee to think through this, tell us about what 
we may be missing about--if there's anything positive that could come 
from this, and also think through the other implications, how can we get 
the benefits of our deep desire to find any possible cure for any malady 
that's out there without raising the kind of ethical implications that, 
in effect, we're in the business where people are trying to play God or 
to replicate themselves.

1996 Campaign Financing

    Q. Mr. President, Democrats and Republicans are bogged down in 
Congress over whether to conduct hearings on the fundraising issue. Do 
you want to see that happen, and would you so tell your Democrats, your 
fellow Democrats up on the Hill?
    The President. My understanding is that the Democrats have no 
objection whatever to the hearings. They just believe that they ought 
not to go on forever and that they don't need to--they're disputing 
whether $6\1/2\ million needs to be spent. That's something that they 
need to work out among themselves.
    I certainly have no objection to hearings. I've always assumed that 
they would occur, but I think that the American people are entitled to 
know that some prudence will be exercised in how much money is spent, 
because there's a lot of other things out there to be done, and we have 
the public's business to get on with as well, a lot of other issues that 
need to be dealt with. And what I'm hoping that we can do is to just 
reconcile how this is going to be dealt with and maybe spend some of 
that money to properly fund the Federal Election Commission so they can 
do the kind of audits they're supposed to do and do the job that they 
actually have the power to do on the books right now and get on with the 
big business, get on with balancing the budget, get on with passing the 
education program, get on with doing the other things that are out there 
for us to do. And so I'm going to do everything I can to facilitate 
    But it is a decision for the Senate and for the House--in the 
House--to decide how these hearings will proceed and how they will be 
funded. But I don't think anybody objects to having hearings. We want 
them to be fair. We want them to be bipartisan. We want them to be 
balanced. And as I understand it, the big fight in the Senate is, will 
there be a date certain for ending, and will there be a limit to how 
much is spent?
    And let me say this: Whatever the hearings produce, in the end, the 
only real question is, will they produce campaign finance reform? 
Whatever they produce, will they produce campaign finance reform? I 
still believe that the only way for the Congress to really deal with 
this and any questions from the past is to change the system. And we 
have the McCain-Feingold bill out there. It's a good vehicle. I have 
endorsed it. I would happily sign it the way it is, but they may want to 
debate that in some way or another. But the main thing that I want to 
say again is that there is no excuse for not voting on and passing a 
good bipartisan campaign finance reform bill this year. There is no 
excuse. That is the main issue.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:25 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, 
general chair, and Steve Grossman, national chair, Democratic National 

[[Page 233]]