Islamic Nations Pressured to Back Human Cloning for Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Islamic Nations Pressured to Back Human Cloning for Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 6, 2005

Cairo, Egypt ( — Islamic nations are being asked to back the use of human cloning for research purposes. The decision could have significant consequences for the debate at the United Nations over an effort by the U.S., Costa Rica, and other nations to ban all forms of human cloning.

A conference of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS), held in Cairo last month, prepared a resolution with a provision banning human cloning for reproductive purposes but allowing scientists to use cloning to create human embryos with the sole purpose of destroying them for stem cells.

The language is part of a document creating the first Islamic code of medical and health ethics.

Any decision could have huge ramifications on the debate at the United Nations over human cloning.

Led by the United States and Costa Rica, more than 60 nations want the world to draft a treaty calling for all forms of human cloning to be prohibited. A smaller group of nations, headed up by Belgium and several Asian and European countries, wants research-based cloning to be allowed.

The dispute has put the large bloc of Islamic nations in the middle.

Frequently voting pro-life to oppose abortion, the Muslim countries have balked on whether to back the human cloning ban or some forms of the grisly practice. Instead they have worked to stall a decision until a greater consensus can be reached.

In November, the United Nations decided to postpone a decision yet again while diplomats work out the language of a possible compromise statement that would call on nations to ban all forms of human cloning but not make it mandatory through a treaty.

The IOMS is scheduled to finalize work on the proposed health code prior to a February meeting of UN diplomats to complete work on the compromise statement.

In addition to impacting the UN human cloning debate, the code would play a significant part in molding the views of Muslims. The IOMS is asking that the code to be taught in medical schools, posted on health care organization web sites and to be distributed throughout the medical community in the Islamic nations.

But, whether the IOMS code will back human cloning for research is still a question.

Some scholars say Shia and Sunni Muslims would back the research cloning while others point to a June 2004 meeting of Islamic legal experts who recommended that scientists using cloning be fined and jailed.