After Stem Cell Research Claims, Calls for Human Cloning Ban Resume

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

After Stem Cell Research Claims, Calls for Human Cloning Ban Resume

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 14, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Following claims made by a team of South Korean researchers who say they have successfully extracted stem cells from cloned human embryos, pro-life groups are stepping up the pressure on Congress to pass a complete ban on both forms of human cloning.

The House of Representatives has passed a pro-life bill that would ban both human cloning for reproductive as well as research purposes.

However, the Senate has been caught up in a debate between pro-life lawmakers who favor the total ban and pro-cloning lawmakers who are backing "clone and kill" legislation that would ban reproductive cloning but allow human embryos to be cloned and kill for experiments.

Rep. Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey said a complete ban on all forms of human cloning is needed now. He also urged the United Nations to adopt a cloning ban as well, where a resolution to craft one has been postponed for one year.

"Senator Hatch and others in the U.S. Senate need to stop blocking a total ban on human cloning so we can proceed to protect the dignity of human life," Congressman Smith said. "We also need an international ban on human cloning."

Senator Sam Brownback (R) of Kansas, the sponsor of the total cloning ban in the Senate, said it’s time for lawmakers to act and approve his legislation.

The claim by the South Korean scientists "underscores the need for complete national and international bans on all human cloning," because "human cloning is wrong," Brownback said at a Friday news conference.

Cardinal William Keeler of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed saying that the South Korean scientists engaged in the "ultimate violation of research ethics."

"If scientists will not voluntarily turn away from this abuse of science, a national and worldwide effort to ban human cloning is more urgently needed than ever," he said.

Congressman Smith said destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells is unnecessary in light of the successes in clinical trials and research using adult stem cells from more ethical sources.

"There is no reason to create human life to destroy it when adult and cord blood stem cells are accessible and are being successfully used to treat human patients," Smith explained.

However, those who favor the use of embryonic stem cells in research say they will continue to pressure Congressional lawmakers to oppose a complete ban and to pass legislation authorizing their research.

"These scientific advances are going to force policy makers to do some re-evaluating," said Sean Tipton, spokesman for the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. "This puts pressure on every policy maker who wants to continue to say we don’t care about the diseases you and your loved ones have."

While cloning advocates attempt to paint the pro-life community as uncaring about those who suffer from a host of diseases, other bioethicists were concerned about the exploitation of women from cloning research.

"Cloning research is impossible to do without exploiting women. It should be banned immediately," said Daniel McConchie, Director of Public Relations and Public Policy for The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

"Obtaining eggs from women is a difficult and sometimes dangerous process, and cloning success is limited," McConchie explained.

"Many scientists promote cloning as a kind of ‘fountain of youth’ where diseases from Alzheimer’s to diabetes may be cured," he added. "If we are successful in treating just one major disease using cloning methods, countless women will need to donate their eggs to make the cure available to all."

President Bush strongly backs a ban on all forms of human cloning and has asked Congress on several occasions to pass the pro-life bill immediately.