WASHINGTON (May 20, 2002) – An official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Senate to oppose S. 2439, a bill to allow human cloning for research purpose. Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, said the bill would lead down the path toward what President Bush has called " a society in which human beings are grown for spare body parts."
Although the bill is called a "human cloning prohibition act," Ms. Quinn said it would not prohibit the cloning of humans. It would simply mandate their destruction after the cloning takes place. "Its only restriction is that no cloned human must get out of the laboratory alive," she said.
In a May 20 letter to the Senate, Ms. Quinn said the legal and social impact of S. 2439 has been misrepresented by supporters in several ways.
(The bill) "does not ban any human cloning, for any purpose," the Catholic official stated. "It allows unlimited use of cloning to create human embryos, then tries to ensure that all these embryos will die before birth. Thus the bill defines a subclass of humanity as nothing more than research material, to be produced solely in order to be destroyed."
While the bill claims to protect important areas of medical research, "nothing in this bill prevents mass production and destruction of cloned human embryos for commercial use, idle speculation, or any other reason...It even allows research aimed at refining the cloning procedure, to make cloning for live birth feasible in the future."
"By banning pregnancy or live birth, instead of banning use of cloning to initiate human development, (S. 2439 and other) bills focus their legal penalties on desperate infertile women and their physicians, instead of on scientists who irresponsibly mass-produce human life in the laboratory as research material," Ms. Quinn wrote. "Even more unjustly, these bills seek to impose a government-mandated death sentence on the completely innocent victim of the cloning procedure, the helpless cloned human. Such legislation could be described as anti-woman and anti-life at the same time."
"This is a case in which how we achieve an important goal is at least as important as whether we achieve it," Ms. Quinn wrote. "We should ban human cloning–by banning the use of the cloning procedure to create new developing humans in the first place, as in the Brownback/Landrieu cloning ban (S. 1899). "Legislation which allows the practice, and then seeks to dehumanize and destroy the humans thus produced so we can pretend we have banned cloning, is worse than doing nothing."
NOTE: Full text of the letter