WASHINGTON (April 27, 1998) -- Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, has urged Congress to enact a meaningful ban on human cloning and not to be swayed by "misleading arguments" on the matter.
To further that end, the Cardinal sent each member of Congress an information packet prepared by the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The materials address three objections which have stymied past Congressional efforts to come to grips with the issue: the claim that a genuine ban on use of cloning to produce human embryos would block essential medical research; that no one knows what a "human embryo" is; and that it is not known whether the use of cloning in humans would produce an "embryo."
Cardinal Law noted that the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and the relevant scientific literature agree that from the one-celled stage onwards, the being produced by human fertilization or cloning is a developing human embryo.
"Moreover, the argument that cloning must be used to produce human embryos for destructive experiments if medical research is to advance lacks a basis in fact," Cardinal Law wrote.
"One proposition receiving almost universal support in years of public policy debate is this: human embryos must never be created solely as research material, to be experimented on and destroyed," the Cardinal said. "Therefore it is a cause for amazement that Congress is hesitating to enact a genuine ban on human cloning on the grounds that some biotechnology companies say the law must protect the use of cloning to produce and then discard 'research embryos."
The information packet included a copy of testimony delivered in February by Cardinal William Keeler, and fact sheets on such topics as "What is an Embryo?", "Does Human Cloning Produce an Embryo?" "Human Cloning Debate Raises Pro-Life Issues," and "Would a Ban on Human Cloning Block Stem Cell Research?"
The materials are available from the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.