Christian Legal Society

Christian Legal Society Condemns the First Reported Cloning of Human Embryos

Date: 11/26/2001

November 26, 2001

The Journal of Regenerative Medicine published yesterday the first reported successful cloning of a human embryo. Questions remain about the bona fides of the procedure, but scientists of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. in Worcester, Massachusetts trumpet their achievement as the first successful transfer of human DNA into human eggs and the growth of these fertilized eggs into human embryos. ACT reports that its sole objective for this procedure is eventually to mass create and terminate living human embryos for non-therapeutic human experimentation.

“Creating human beings for the sole purpose of killing them for a potential benefit to others represents a new nadir in medical ethics,” said Attorney Nathan Adams. “Most of us thought Nazi doctors reached the low point of medical ethics when they killed human beings in non-therapeutic human experimentation; however, now we have sunk even lower: we have allegedly created life solely to terminate it for the benefit of third parties.”

Once more, the biotechnology industry has taken these steps despite substantial new evidence that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is not necessary to achieve the breakthroughs in medicine all of us desire. Adult stem cell research is achieving all of the objectives of ESCR at breakneck speed. Under standard human medical experimentation rules, ESCR is only justified if adequate animal modeling has preceded it, adequate alternative means to achieve the same ends do not exist, and the human subject provides his or her consent. Proponents of ESCR cannot comply with the last requirement and have failed to prove compliance with the others.

Christian Legal Society joins those calling for an immediate ban or at least a moratorium on human embryo cloning to allow a full debate on cloning in the U.S. Senate. On July 31, 2001, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 162 to ban human cloning.  See Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, H.R. 2505, 107th Cong. § 302 (2001). Sen. Daschle has promised consideration of this bill in the Senate no later than March 2002.

Ten states already expressly regulate human embryonic research. Seven states including Massachusetts permit only therapeutic human embryonic research. Mass. NN. Laws ch. 112, § 12J (Law. Co-op. 1991) bans non-therapeutic experimentation on any living human fetus before or after expulsion from its mother’s womb. CLS is investigating the legality of ACT’s actions under this and other authority. The stem cells derived from ACT’s creating and killing of human embryos clearly would not qualify for federal funding under President Bush’s guidelines announced on August 9, 2001.