WASHINGTON (May 2, 2001) -- In Senate testimony, an official of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) expressed support for the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001."
"The sanctity and dignity of human life is a cornerstone of Catholic moral and social teaching," said Richard M. Doerflinger. "We believe society can be judged by the respect it shows for human life, especially in its most vulnerable stages and conditions."
"At first glance, human cloning may not seem to threaten respect for life because it is presented as a means for creating life, not destroying it," he stated. "Yet it shows disrespect for life in the very act of generating it. Here human life does not arise from an act of love, but is manufactured in the laboratory to preset specifications determined by the desires of others. Developing human beings are treated as objects, not as individuals with their own identity and rights."
Mr. Doerflinger, Associate Director for Policy Development in the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, testified on human cloning (May 2) before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space. He testified in support of S.790, proposed legislation to put a federal ban on the practice of human cloning.
The NCCB official said many disturbing consequences flow from the dehumanizing nature of the human cloning technique. "Because human clones would be produced by a means that
involves no loving relationship, no personal investment or responsibility for a new life, but only laboratory technique, they would be uniquely at risk of being treated as 'second-class' human beings," he stated.
Mr. Doerflinger said that attempts to produce a liveborn child by cloning would require taking a callous attitude toward human life, since animal trials show that 95 to 99% of cloned embryos die.
"Ironically," he continued, "startling evidence of the dehumanizing aspects of cloning is found in some proposals ostensibly aimed at preventing human cloning. These initiatives would not ban human cloning at all--but would simply ban any effort to allow cloned human embryos to survive. In these proposals, researchers are allowed to use cloning for the unlimited mass production of human embryos for experimentation--and are then required by law to destroy them, instead of allowing them to implant in a woman's womb."
"A ban on human cloning will help direct the scientific enterprise toward research that benefits human beings without producing, exploiting and destroying fellow human beings to gain those benefits," Mr. Doerflinger said. "Creating human life solely to cannibalize and destroy it is the most unconscionable use of human cloning--not its highest justification."
NOTE: The full text of Mr. Doerflinger's testimony on human cloning is available on the Conference Web site at: http:// www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/index.htm; or at:http:// www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/clonetest5201.htm