Japan Considers Measure to Allow Human Cloning for Destructive Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Japan Considers Measure to Allow Human Cloning for Destructive Research

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 19, 2004

Tokyo, Japan (LifeNews.com) — Japan is considering a recommendation to allow the use of cloned embryonic stem cells for research in regenerative medicine. This, despite the fact that embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure a single patient while the use of adult stem cells has been remarkably successful.

On Tuesday a life ethics subcommittee of the Council for Science and Technology Policy approved a report that allows for the use of cloning technology to produce embryonic stem cells for basic regenerative research. The full council will consider the proposal on July 23.

Currently, so-called "therapeutic" cloning is banned in Japan, but the new regulations would allow the research provided the embryos were respected as "budding human life."

Human embryos created from in vitro methods will remain restricted to reproductive health research, which means only cloned embryos will be used for research of regenerating damaged tissue in genetic disorders.

The extraction of stem cells from human embryos destroy them. Pro-life groups oppose the destruction of human life in its earliest stages.

Last week the French parliament passed legislation banning human reproductive cloning but allowing the use of human embryos for destructive research.

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.

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.