Doctors Group Assails Stem Cell Research Backer’s Cloning Statement

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doctors Group Assails Stem Cell Research Backer’s Cloning Statement Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 1, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A doctors group is taking issue with comments made by a leading stem cell research advocate who it says wants to hide the fact that his group supports the use of human cloning to create embryos solely to be destroyed for their stem cells.

The head of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) recently urged embryonic research supporters to get the media to stop using the term "cloning" to describe the creation of the human embryos for research.

ISSCR President Leonard Zon wrote in a memo, "The negative connotation of the commercial term ‘therapeutic cloning,’ make[s] a change in terminology necessary. Nuclear transfer should be used instead of ‘therapeutic cloning.’"

"If we use these terms consistently, the public, journals, newspapers and magazines will follow our lead and use adequate terminology," Zon added.

Zon also said that the term "cloning" does not accurately describe the artificial creation of human embryos for research.

David Stevens, M.D., director of the Christian Medical Association takes issue with Zon’s remarks.

"A number of researchers have been trying to leverage public funds by obscuring the fact that they want to clone human embryos to get embryonic stem cells," Stevens said.

"When scientists want to do something the public abhors, they simply change the terminology. They either deploy a euphemism or use technical jargon that nobody understands," Dr. Stevens explained.

Stevens said that media and scientists worldwide understand that Dolly the sheep was a cloned mammal, even though the technical term for the cloning process is nuclear transfer — the euphemism Zon favors.

"Are we now supposed to say Dolly the ‘nuclear transfer’ sheep? Did Dolly’s cloning process simply create ‘cells’, or did it create a sheep embryo that was later born," Dr. Stevens asked.

Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.