Why the U.S. Supports a Comprehensive Cloning Ban for U.N. Treaty

Date: 03/19/2002

The United Nations has begun deliberations aimed at bringing about a UN treaty to ban human cloning. The official U.S. position is in support of a cloning ban treaty that is comprehensive ban, and the illuminating reasons for doing so are outlined below.

These reasons alone are sufficient to support the Brownback-Landrieu comprehensive ban currently before the US Senate (S. 1899). The “promise” of therapeutic cloning is elusive while treatments in adult stem cells are now available (and with new treatments currently in clinical trials). With over 97% of animal clones dying or grossly disfigured (sometimes killing the mother that carries the clone), S. 1899 is the only bill that will truly prevent deadly experimentation on women and children.

The official U.S. position paper on the U.N. cloning ban treaty, as distributed on February 26th to members of the special committee tasked with the negotiations, included the following points:

First, a ban that prohibited only “reproductive” cloning, but left “therapeutic” or “experimental” cloning unaddressed, would essentially authorize the creation and destruction of human embryos explicitly and solely for research and experimentation. It would turn nascent human life into a natural resource to be mined and exploited, eroding the sense of the worth and dignity of the individual. This prospect is repugnant to many people, including those who do not believe that the embryo is a “person.”

Second, to ban “reproductive” cloning effectively, all human cloning must be banned. Under a partial ban that permitted the creation of cloned embryos for research, human embryos would be widely cloned in laboratories and assisted-reproduction facilities. Once cloned embryos are available, it would be virtually impossible to control what was done with them. Stockpiles of embryonic clones could be produced, bought and sold without anyone knowing it. Implantation of cloned embryos, an easy procedure, would take place out of sight, and even elaborate and intrusive regulations and policing could not detect or prevent the initiation of a clonal pregnancy. Once begun, an illicit clonal pregnancy would be virtually impossible to detect. And if detected, governments would be unlikely to compel the pregnancy to be aborted or severely penalize the pregnant woman for allowing the implantation or for failure to abort the pregnancy. A ban only on “reproductive”cloning would therefore be a false ban, creating the illusion that such cloning had been prohibited.

Third, a ban that permits embryonic clones to be created and forbids them to be implanted in utero legally requires the destruction of nascent human life and criminalizes efforts to preserve and protect it once created, a morally abhorrent prospect.

Fourth, there may be other routes to solving the transplant rejection problem, and there is to date no animal research to support the claim that cloned embryonic stem cells are therapeutically efficacious. A legal ban on “therapeutic” cloning would allow time for the investigation of promising and less problematic research alternatives such as “adult” stem-cell research. It would also allow time for policy makers and the public to develop more informed judgments about cloning, and for the establishment of regulatory structures to oversee applications of cloning technology that society deems acceptable.”