Southern Baptist Convention

Call for an Immediate and Comprehensive Ban on Human Cloning

Date: 11/26/2001

Richard Land
President, The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
November 26, 2001

Sunday’s announcement that Advanced Cell Technology has cloned human embryos makes it urgent that Congress enact an immediate and comprehensive ban on human cloning, including somatic cell nuclear transfer and parthenogenesis.

By its own admission, Advanced Cell Technology created cloned human embryos for the purposes of experimentation. Human embryo-destructive experimentation is unconscionable and must no longer be permitted.

On July 31, the U. S. House of Representatives voted 265-162 in favor of HR. 2505, the Weldon-Stupak Bill, which would ban all cloning of human beings, including human embryos. While the U. S. Senate was prepared to deal with similar legislation in the spring, last Sunday’s announcement makes it critical for the Senate to pass a ban before leaving for Christmas break.

Advanced Cell Technology’s public relations strategy should be noted. There is little question that their decision to release this announcement on Thanksgiving weekend was calculated to catch our elected officials and others off guard.

Congress is necessarily occupied with matters of war and national security. They cannot afford to be distracted by a few renegade scientists or avaricious biotechnology companies who are intent on creating embryonic human beings through cloning. Human cloning must be banned immediately.

Advanced Cell Technology’s linguistic strategy must be challenged as well. Those who claim that Advanced Cell Technology’s goal is not to create “human beings” but “human embryos” are being duplicitous. A human embryo is a very young human being and nothing less. In fact, scientists are cloning those embryos precisely because they are human beings.

Cloning human embryos is clearly not “therapeutic.” Its purpose is always reproductive. Scientists who clone do so for the purpose of reproducing a cloned copy of the original life form. In addition, no therapeutic benefits accrue to the cloned human being. In fact, the stated purpose of cloning human embryos is to use them for destructive research purposes. The carnage must be stopped now.

As Americans we must now decide whether we are going to be a country that allows the destruction of our tiniest humans for the supposed benefit of older and bigger humans. Unless the answer is a resounding no, the science fiction of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World will have become science fact with all of the barbarous consequences which will follow this downward spiral into a new biotech dark age.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the moral concerns, religious liberty, and public policy agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant religious denomination, with over 16 million members in more than 40,000 churches nationwide.