WASHINGTON (February 12, 1998)--In Congressional testimony, Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore said "Cloning is not wrong because cloned human beings lack human dignity--it is wrong because they have human dignity, and deserve to come into the world in ways that respect this dignity."
"Each child has a right to be conceived and born as the fruit of a loving union between husband and wife, to be loved and accepted as a new and distinct individual," he said.
Cardinal Keeler testified (February 12) for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities. He presented testimony to the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and Environment concerning "Cloning: Legal, Medical, Ethical, and Social Issues."
The Catholic Church strongly opposes the taking of human life through abortion, euthanasia or destructive experiments on human embryos, the Cardinal stated.
While human cloning is presented as a means for creating life, "it shows disrespect for human life in the very act of generating it," Cardinal Keeler stated.
"Cloning completely divorces human reproduction from the context of a loving union between man and woman, producing children with no 'parents' in the ordinary sense," the Cardinal continued. "Here human life does not arise from an act of love, but is manufactured to predetermined specifications. A developing human being is treated as an object, not as an individual with his or her own identity and rights."
According to Cardinal Keeler, evidence of the dehumanizing aspects of cloning is found in some proposals that are supposedly aimed at preventing it. "The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), and now some members of Congress, favor legislation that would not ban human cloning at all--but would simply ban any effort to allow cloned human beings to survive," he said. Such proposals would allow researchers to use cloning for the unlimited mass production of human embryos for experimentation--after which they are required to destroy them, instead of allowing them to implant in a woman's womb.
"Enactment of such a proposal would mark the first time in history that the U.S. government defined a class of human beings that it is a crime not to destroy," Cardinal Keeler said. "These human embryos--produced without true parents, and hence without protectors--would be created at the outset for the sole purpose of experimentation and destruction."
"Some will ask: By speaking here of a human embryo, let alone a human life, do we inject religious belief into this debate? The answer is emphatically no," Cardinal Keeler said. "Even the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel, which recommended federal funding for destructive human embryo experiments, called the early human embryo 'a developing form of human life' which 'warrants serious moral consideration.' If some wish to deny membership in the human family to human beings in the earliest stage of their development, it is they who impose an ideological filter on the facts," Cardinal Keeler said. "To claim that one is banning 'human cloning' by simply banning the nurture or live birth of human embryos already produced by cloning is to distort language and common sense."
The Cardinal said that while there has been speculation about the ways human cloning might revolutionize medical research on various diseases, alternatives seem to be possible in all these areas of research which do not involve the use of cloning technology to create and destroy human embryos.