French Parliament Bans Cloning, Allows Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

French Parliament Bans Cloning, Allows Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
July 12, 2004

Paris, France ( — On Friday, the French parliament passed legislation banning human reproductive cloning but allowing the use of human embryos for destructive research.

Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the new law "allows the introduction of a text which seeks to find a path between the hopes of some and the fears of others."

The new law also reflects Douste-Blazy’s view that human cloning for reproductive purposes and embryonic stem cell research, in which a human embryo is cloned then destroyed, "are two different things." However, pro-life groups disagree, saying that each process takes a human life.

While the new law considers reproductive cloning a "considered a crime against humanity," human cloning for embryonic research is authorized for a five-year period on existing embryos, after which the policy will be reviewed following a report from the new biomedicine agency.

The law also allows for the use of so-called "baby medicine," in which embryos are selected to grow into siblings with the ideal genetic makeup to provide a cure for an older sibling suffering from a genetic disorder.

First introduced in 2002 under the government of Lionel Jospin, the law is scaled back from its original form.

Earlier this month the Texas Medical Association announced its endorsement of embryonic stem cell research, citing a little-known position from the American Medical Association supporting human cloning in the future.

"The TMA’s endorsement of adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research includes references to relevant sections of their parent organization’s (the AMA) policy," explains Stacey Emick, Legislative Director of Texas Right to Life. "One of references cited by the TMA states that the AMA believes that the implantation of the cloned human embryo for the purposes of reproduction could serve medical purposes in the future."

"Despite acknowledging such concerns as genetic anomalies, violations of autonomy, alteration of the family unit, and the potential of eugenics and discrimination, the AMA nevertheless claims that creating and birthing human clones is ‘realistic and possibly appropriate’ but should not be undertaken ‘at this time,’" adds Emick.

Opponents of the research point out that, not only is the practice of destroying human life for research unethical, but there have been no scientific advances nor is there hope for the claimed "miracle" cures.

"An honest and accurate medical report on embryonic stem cells would admit that researchers have found no cure or treatment for a human disease using embryonic stem cells," Emick explained.

In fact, tumors and terratomas (balls of tissue with hair, eyes and teeth) have appeared in animals treated with embryonic cells. That has discouraged researchers from using them in human clinical trials.

Focus on the Family founder and chairman Dr. James Dobson recently called the media’s coverage of stem cell research a "scandal."

"To ignore the scientific realities, to fail to report that embryonic stem-cell research is the less promising course of action, to allow people who are suffering to develop false hope about possible treatment breakthroughs, is an unconscionable betrayal of the public trust," said Dobson.

Currently New Jersey has the most extreme pro-cloning legislation in effect in the U.S., allowing for the cloning, implantation, and destruction of human life from the embryonic through the newborn stages of prenatal development, funded by state taxes.