Pro-Life Groups: New Stem Cell Research Method Prompts Human Cloning Ban

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups: New Stem Cell Research Method Prompts Human Cloning Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 21,

Washington, DC ( — Now that a new method for obtaining embryonic stem cells without the need for human cloning has been introduced, Congress and state legislatures should move ahead with legislation to ban human cloning. Pro-life groups say cloning is repulsive and could destroy thousands of lives and now it’s no longer needed.

Their call for a ban comes after two teams of researchers in Wisconsin and Japan announced they were able to transition adult stem cells back into their embryonic state.

Previous embryonic stem cell research methods cloned and destroyed a human embryo to harvest stem cells at an early stage of development.

This new technique allows scientists to “directly reprogram” older cells, which are readily available and can be obtained ethically, such that they revert to an earlier stage of development.

Senator Sam Brownback, a pro-life Kansas Republican who was a presidential candidate, has been one of the main sponsors of the ban in Congress.

He told that scientists don’t need to destroy human life in research experiments to obtain embryonic stem cells for research. That would render moot any of the main arguments against his bill to ban all forms of human cloning.

“This exciting breakthrough means that we can conduct embryonic-type stem cell research without destroying human life, and I call on supporters of embryonic stem cell research to recognize that we have no realistic need to destroy embryos,” Brownback said.

He noted that Ian Wilmut, know as the father of the cloned sheep “Dolly,” announced that he is abandoning cloning as a method to obtain embryonic-type stem cells in favor of this new approach developed by Yamanaka and Thomson.

Even Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, the head of the Japanese team that was one of two looking at the new process, says a ban is needed.

"I don’t want someone trying to make human clones through our methods,” he said. "It would be very difficult to create completely normal sperm or eggs and we may end up having embryos with some kinds of defects. It’s terrible. I’m very worried about that.”

He said he is already talking to Japanese government officials about this and believes there needs to be global ban on the use of such a process to create human births.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, told that lawmakers have no reason not to finally approve a cloning ban.

"Congress should move swiftly to ban all human cloning by passing the Brownback-Weldon human cloning prohibition," he said.

An attorney for another pro-life group said state legislators can move forward with human cloning bans as well.

"While we are excited about this ethical breakthrough, and thankful that scientists are already embracing it," Mailee Smith, staff counsel for Americans United for Life, told "The need for states to pass legislation that bans all forms of human cloning remains."