American Bar Association Examines Human Cloning, Abortion at National Meeting

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

American Bar Association Examines Human Cloning, Abortion at National Meeting

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
August 12, 2004

Atlanta, GA ( — During its annual meeting in Atlanta this month, the American Bar Association addressed the legal status of cloned humans. The Association also decided not to vote on a provision that would have opposed conscience clauses that allow medical professionals to refuse to recommend abortion or other procedures that they object to on moral grounds.

The ABA opposes reproductive cloning, but the resolution addresses the possibility of a successful cloning attempt by establishing rules for parentage and "Guarantee that any such human being is a person, legally separate and distinct from its biological progenitor, with all rights accorded to any other live born human being under existing law."

The Association does support so-called therapeutic cloning, or embryonic stem cell research in which a human embryos is cloned then destroyed so that its stem cells can be harvested. It adopted the therapeutic cloning position in August 2002, when it voted to opposed complete bans on human cloning.

"Once again, the ABA has decided to choose sides in a public debate of profound moral and social consequence," said Cathleen Cleaver, a spokeswoman for the nation’s Catholic Bishops, following the 2002 vote. "And it has once again positioned itself against life."

"This is why so many Americans are coming to see the ABA more as a politicized lobby group than as a professional legal association," added Cleaver.

The ABA decided not to vote on another resolution that was being monitored by pro-life groups, one that could have set the lawyers’ organization against conscience clauses protecting pro-life health professionals.

Specifically mentioning measures in Wisconsin and Michigan to recognize a right to opt out of medical practices to which one is morally opposed, as well as the national Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), the ABA resolution denounced such legislation.

It sought to "ensure that patients receive all medically appropriate, accurate and unbiased information they require to make informed decisions and have access to medically appropriate care," by suggesting that medical professionals be required to recommend abortions, prescribe so-called emergency contraception, and even distribute condoms.

"At its core this proposal is a direct attempt to discriminate against faith-based medical facilities and professionals who hold the belief that abortion, assisted suicide and contraception are morally wrong," said Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins.

"Hiding behind the face of ‘patients rights,’ the American Bar Association’s proposal flies in the face of its purpose to advance individual rights and responsibilities by stifling a doctor’s constitutional right to listen to his or her own conscience when it comes to performing an abortion," added FRC’s Senior Legal Adviser Pat Trueman.

Conscience clauses have been an issue recently with disciplinary actions being taken against pharmacists in Texas who refused to fill birth control prescriptions. In California, the state Supreme Court ruled that a Catholic insurance company must cover birth control, despite Church teachings opposing the practice. Similar legislation is being considered in New Jersey.