Shame on the Ohio Legislature for Holding the Human Cloning Ban Hostage

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Shame on the Ohio Legislature for Holding the Human Cloning Ban Hostage

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by Paula Westwood
May 6, 2008 Note: Paula Westwood is the executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. She has been one of the active pro-life advocates in urging the Ohio state legislature to approve a ban on all forms of human cloning.

Last week, S.B. 174, Ohio’s Ban on Human Cloning, had its fifth hearing in the Senate Judiciary Civil Justice Committee. Supporting testimony was again heard, plus this time, opponent. Chairman Senator David Goodman again did not call for a vote on this bill.

Much opponent focus is to change the bill to ban only so-called reproductive cloning but not so-called therapeutic cloning, plus their feared effect of this ban on research jobs and funding for Ohio.

However, a surprising opponent assertion, never before heard, is that what is created with cloning and used for research (so-called "therapeutic" cloning) is not an embryo at all.

This is astounding when these credentialed researchers openly oppose reproductive cloning which would mean implanting this same artificially created embryo in a womb where it could grow into a fully developed child — only possible with embryos, not random cells.

This claim is an attempt to disguise support for what is in reality clone-and-kill technology (misnamed "therapeutic") to create cloned human embryos for experimental research–such as to remove embryonic stem cells — after which the embryos die or are destroyed.

Regardless of ethical problems, embryonic stem cells have not produced one single cure and researchers are becoming disenchanted. Lord Patel of Dunkeld, chairman of the UK National Stem Cell Network, recently admitted that embryonic stem cell research is not working and scientists may never be able to overcome its problems, such as development of tumors or immune syndrome rejection, which make it risky for treating humans.

The stem cell excitement is in recent discoveries, where researchers in Wisconsin and Japan have successfully created cells without human embryos, but with skin cells, that perform exactly like embryonic stem cells. Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have recently used such cells to successfully treat Parkinson’s in mice.

Additionally, adult stem cells — that is, stem cells derived from non-embryonic sources such as bone marrow, baby teeth, nasal cavities, umbilical cord blood, and more — have produced near miraculous cures. Cincinnati Jewish Hospital’s Cancer Center has an acclaimed Bone and Marrow Transplant Program treating leukemia with bone marrow adult stem cells.

Good research for the betterment of human health and welfare is a blessing. But all people must oppose research that experiments on human beings at any stage of development as morally evil–as has been historically evident in nations that have engaged in such abuses. We expect researchers to recognize and follow this ethical guideline as commonsense scientific discipline, not fight against it.