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The United States Congress has made permanent a ban on human embryo patents that previously had to be renewed every year. The pro-life “Weldon Patent Ban” was enacted as part of the “America Invents Act,” which was signed into law Monday by President Barack Obama.

“Human kind should not be for sale at any stage of development,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

“Making permanent this important pro-life policy to ensure human organisms are never patented is a notable victory for Americans who believe that human beings — regardless of their stage of development — are not considered property to be licensed for financial gain.”

The language added to the 58-page America Invents Act makes permanent the pro-life policy Weldon provision that has been included in the federal appropriations bills annually since 2004. The language was introduced into the Act by Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Lamar Smith of Texas.

House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Representative Chris Smith, and other pro-life lawmakers supported the Weldon amendment. Both the House and Senate subsequently approved the broader bill without separate votes on the pro-life provision.

The key language, as it appears in Section 33 of the enacted measure, says:  “Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no patent may issue on a claim directed to or encompassing a human organism.”

Pro-life doctor and Republican Representative Dave Weldon of Florida was behind the original amendment language that pro-life groups supported in 2003 before it was enacted in 2004.

“Unethical researchers and biotechnology companies are willing not only to create and destroy embryonic human beings for research purposes, but even to patent these fellow humans so they can license, market, buy, and sell them as mere commodities,” said Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

“By prohibiting patents on human organisms, Congress has helped prevent such gross abuses and has taken some of the profit motive out of the drive for human cloning.”

The “Weldon Patent Ban” differs from another Weldon Amendment signed into law in 2005. That Weldon Amendment is a federal statute that prohibits the federal government or state and local governments receiving certain federal aid from discriminating against medical professionals who refuse to perform or refer for abortions.

In 2006, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the pro-abortion National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association challenging the federal protection for pro-life medical professionals.

[20 Sept 11, Jeremy Kryn, &utm_medium=email]