National Right to Life Committee

National Right to Life Response to Bioethics Council Report on Human Cloning

Date: 07/11/2002

July 11, 2002

WASHINGTON – The President’s Council on Bioethics today issued its report on human cloning.  The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s major pro-life organization, issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Douglas Johnson, legislative director:

Senators Feinstein, Specter, Hatch, Daschle, and others are pushing for legislation that would authorize the cloning of human embryos and make the FBI responsible for enforcing a 14-day deadline for killing them.  Any senator who votes for this clone-to-kill bill would be directly repudiating the Council’s majority recommendation, which is to ban all cloning of human embryos for at least four years.  Any such senator would also be rejecting the position of the 61% of the public who, in a May Gallup poll, opposed “cloning of human embryos for medical research.”

We strongly favor a permanent ban on all human cloning, such as the House has passed and President Bush supports.  However, we could support legislation to temporarily ban human cloning, but such a moratorium should apply equally to human cloning for any purpose.

We welcome the Council’s rejection, apparently unanimous, of attempts by the pro-cloning advocacy groups to deceive the public into believing that cloning human embryos is not really “cloning” or does not really produce “human embryos.”  (For example, on June 14 Senator Feinstein said on the Senate floor that the bill she supports would permit research on what she called “unfertilized eggs” up to 14 days old, and she even asserted that an “unfertilized egg is not capable of becoming a human being.”) The Council declares that somatic cell nuclear transfer using human genetic material is indeed “human cloning,” and indeed produces a “human embryo” not merely “cells” or “stem cells” as some journalists have recently written.

In short, the Council implicitly repudiates the rhetorical evasions of many senators who say that they favor a “ban on human cloning,” when they actually support the cloning of human embryos and what the Council report refers to as “embryo cultivation.”

Key documents on human cloning, including the Justice Department’s May 15 testimony explaining the enforcement implications of the bill that would ban only cloning-for-birth and President Bush’s April 10 speech in favor of a complete ban on human cloning, are posted on the National Right to Life Committee website at www.nrlc.org/Killing_Embryos/Index.html