Americans to Ban Cloning

Diverse Array of People Support Total Ban on Human Cloning

Date: 11/30/2001

Pro-Choice, Pro-Life Voices Say No

“Supporters of women’s health and reproductive rights have particular reasons to oppose human cloning. Those who encourage human cloning appear oblivious to the enormous risks to women and children’s health that human cloning would pose. There is no way that human cloning could be developed without, in effect, mass experimentation on human beings—women and children—of a sort that has been outlawed since the formulation of the Nuremberg Principles following World War II…

“Further, cloning advocates are seeking to appropriate the language of reproductive rights to support their case. This is a travesty. There is an immense difference between seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy and seeking to create a genetic duplicate human being. Our opposition to human cloning in no way diminishes our support for a woman’s right to safe, legal, and accessible contraception and abortion services…

“For these reasons, we call for a permanent ban on the creation of cloned human beings.”

— Judy Norsigian, Executive Director, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective and co-author of Our Bodies Ourselves for the New Century.

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“In addition, while the Council for Responsible Genetics is unequivocally committed to women’s right not to proceed with a pregnancy if that is her choice, we, along with many feminists and others who affirm this right, are concerned that ‘reproductive choice’ is increasingly taken to include the right to genetically improve the next generation. If this is allowed it may soon lead to baby design and reproductive boutiques. Eugenics, defining humans as genetically superior or inferior and implementing those definitions, has a horrific history that we dare not repeat…. The bans that we call for would in no way curtail the option to employ in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes… As a scientist, I am personally concerned that the products of our research not be used for dangerous and divisive purposes, which would bring disrepute to science and undermine our ability to do beneficial work. As these new technologies proliferate the question continually arises as to “where to draw the line.” Because embryo cloning will, with virtual certainty, lead to the production of ‘experimental’ human beings, both as a scientist and a citizen I urge you to draw the line here.”

— Stuart Newman, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology and anatomy Development, New York Medical College; founding member, The Council for Responsible Genetics.

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“Research in the cloning of animals, plants, and even human genes, tissues and cells (other than embryos) can be beneficial and presents no intrinsic moral problem. However, when research turns its attention to human subjects, we must be sure not to undermine human dignity in the pursuit of human progress. Human experimentation divorced from moral considerations might progress more quickly on a technical level — but at the loss of our humanity.

“A ban on human cloning will help direct the scientific enterprise toward research that benefits human beings without producing, exploiting and destroying fellow human beings to gain those benefits. Creating human life solely to cannibalize and destroy it is the most unconscionable use of human cloning — not its highest justification.”

— Testimony of Richard M. Doerflinger on behalf of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, June 20, 2001.

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[Human cloning] constitutes unethical experimentation on the child-to-be, subjecting him or her to enormous risks of bodily and developmental abnormalities. It threatens individuality, by deliberately saddling the clone with a genotype that has already lived and to whose previous life its life will always be compared. It confuses identity by denying the clone two biological parents and by making it the twin of its older copy. It represents a giant step toward turning procreation into manufacture (especially when understood as the harbinger of non-therapeutic genetic manipulations to come). And it is a radical form of parental despotism and child abuse—even when practiced freely and on a small scale. Permitting human cloning means saying yes to the dangerous principle that we are entitled to determine and design the genetic make-up of our children. If we do not wish to travel down this eugenic road, an effective ban on cloning human beings is needed, and needed now before we are overtaken by events…Once cloned human embryos are produced and available in laboratories and assisted-reproductive centers, it will be virtually impossible to control what is done with them….a ban on only reproductive cloning will turn out to be unenforceable….For all these reasons, the only practically effective and legally sound approach is to block human cloning at the start, at the production of the embryonic clone. Such a ban is rightly characterized not as interference with reproductive freedom, nor even as unprecedented or dangerous interference with scientific inquiry, but as an attempt to prevent the unhealthy, unsavory, and unwelcome manufacture of and traffic in human clones. It would do what the American people want done: stop human cloning before it starts.

— Leon Kass, Chair, President’s Council on Bioethics; Addie Clark Harding Professor on Social Thought and the College, the University of Chicago.

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I am opposed to human cloning for two reasons. The first is that human reproductive cloning, if and when it becomes possible, will constitute a highly unnatural form of reproduction, one that interferes with the normal process of conception and establishes a very abnormal relationship between parent and child… The second reason that I am opposed to human cloning, and in support of legislation to curtail it, is that cloning represents the opening wedge for a series of future technologies that will permit us to alter the human germline and ultimately to design people genetically…such a capability of altering human nature has extremely grave political, social, and moral implications…I believe that this [allowing the creation of embryos for research purposes] would legitimate the first step toward the manufacture of human beings, and I do not believe that it will be possible to enforce a ban on reproductive cloning once embryos can be easily produced for research purposes.”

— Francis Fukyama, Bernard Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

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“The General Conference of The United Methodist Church…called ‘for a ban on all human cloning, including the cloning of human embryos. This would include all projects, privately or governmentally funded, that are intended to advance human cloning.’ (The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2000, p. 254)… Our Genetic Science Task Force concluded that cloning would compromise human distinctiveness, that it would be used as a way to further social injustice, and was a violation of their understanding of God’s Creation and as such should be banned. The General Conference statement on human cloning notes a number of ways that human cloning would have social and theological ramifications: (the) use and abuse of people, exploitation of women, (the) tearing of the fabric of the family, the compromising of human distinctiveness, the lessening of genetic diversity, the direction of research and development (on cloning would likely be)…controlled by corporate profit …(Book of Resolutions, p. 254) The General Conference further noted that Given the profound theological and moral implications, the imperfection of human knowledge that there be a moratorium on cloning-related research. Cloning proponents will argue that cloning will soon be come a normal way of reproducing humans and that initial opposition will fade away when safety concerns are addressed. The cloning of human humans should never be allowed to become ‘normal’. The US Congress has the opportunity to join with many other countries where the United Methodist Church has members and ban human cloning.”

—Jaydee Hanson, Assistant General Secretary, the United Methodist Church

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“One of the basic rules of medicine is also a basic rule of politics: first, do no harm. We are on the pathway to harm. The hope of genetic fundamentalists is that we can increasingly control for that which is deemed desirable and eliminate that which is not. The aim in all this is not to prevent devastating illnesses but precisely to reflect and to reinforce certain societal prejudices in and through genetic selection. There is a word for this so-called ‘genetic enhancement’. That word is eugenics. Human cloning belongs to this eugenics project. All the ethical, political, scientific , and juridical arguments against eugenics apply to the prospect of human cloning. Hans Jonas, the distinguished philosopher and scientist, has already written that cloning is ‘both in method the most despotic and in aim the most slavish form of genetic manipulation…’ …Banning ill-considered, harmful ventures in human cloning will show us at our best. It will demonstrate that the untrammeled profit motive behind runaway and reckless, by contrast to responsible and controlled, developments in the area of genetics will not be given full sway, no matter how many powerful interests may be involved… It will say that we will not turn our children into objects and products of manufacture and design.”

— Jean Bethke Elshtain, Ph.D., The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor Of Social and Political Ethics, The University of Chicago.

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…[I]t would be almost pointless to ban research on [reproductive] human cloning without banning research-cloning as well; the former would provide the necessary knowledge to do the latter, and would make it all the harder to have any kind of oversight over what would be done with the knowledge… Too much of the current research drive is fueled by a single-minded passion to eradicate disease, often likened to a war. The worst possible analogy for biomedical research is that of warfare. Illness, death, and suffering are terrible human threats, but to approach them as if nothing less than all-out battle, with no holds barred, will demonstrate our moral seriousness is a profound mistake. Health is a great and vital human good, but not the only such good. The point of a ban on research for human cloning is to make certain that some time-tested, critical means of human procreation and human individuality are protected. They are as important part of our American and Western heritage as freedom of scientific inquiry—a freedom that has well coexisted for some years with ethical limitations and has managed to flourish in the face of (and sometimes because of) those limitations.”

–Daniel Callahan, Director of the International Program, The Hastings Center, New York.