President’s Council on Bioethics

Remarks of Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Date: 07/11/2002

July 11, 2002

WASHINGTON – The President’s Council on Bioethics reported today that most of its members support at least a temporary ban on cloning human embryos for biomedical research. By banning all cloning for a time,* say the Council members, our nation could provide an opportunity for further debate on a permanent policy and explore morally sound alternatives to the creation and destruction of human embryos in the pursuit of medical progress. Such agreement is a significant achievement for an advisory body representing such diverse viewpoints.

The Council states that human cloning, performed for any purpose, is the creation of a human embryo — so a ban on cloning will ban use of cloning to create embryos. The majority report does not support the kind of proposal offered by Senator Feinstein and others * a proposal to allow creating human embryos by cloning but prohibit their later survival. That morally unacceptable approach, rejected by President Bush and the House of Representatives, is not endorsed by the Bioethics Council either.

However, the Council also said today that it favors some kind of permanent ban on *cloning to produce children,* and this raises many questions. In the five years since *Dolly* the sheep was born, no one has succeeded in crafting a feasible, enforceable and morally sound ban that covers only *cloning to produce children* but does not give government endorsement to the destruction of cloned embryos. No bill in Congress offers such a ban, most likely because it cannot be done.

Fortunately this conundrum need not prevent Congress from meeting its immediate obligation. A four-year moratorium on all human cloning will offer ample time to discuss all viewpoints on a permanent policy. Without further delay, the U.S. Senate should join President Bush, the House of Representatives, and the President*s Council on Bioethics in supporting at least a temporary ban on all human cloning. Otherwise the most irresponsible of researchers will create our national policy on cloning by default.

For further comment by Mr. Doerflinger: 202-541-3171 (office) or 202-494-5879 (cell).