by Cathleen A. Cleaver, Esq.
April 12, 2002
On April 10, the President of the United States gave his response to the question of human cloning. Quite rightly, his answer was, in a word, "no."
There is no other way to approach human cloning. But banning human cloning does not, of course, mean banning research – though its proponents would have us equate the two.
Just last week we learned of another inspiring breakthrough in the area of adult stem cell research. A man with Parkinson's disease found his challenging symptoms greatly reduced by over 80% after his brain was treated with his own neural cells. It's beautiful, really-- as are most sensational human achievements when they are in harmony with the laws of Nature and of Nature's God.
There is an ugliness to cloning that even its proponents cannot hide. But they've tried. They've tried euphemisms like "therapeutic cloning," as if the little clone himself were receiving therapy! Reuters news service went to great lengths to invent a nice name for it -- instead of cloning, calling it a "technique aimed at helping patients grow their own tissue transplants." But dressing it up in pretty language will not disguise this ugly business.
In China, where a repressive government has tried to make its people almost insensible to the ugliness of immorality, scientists forge ahead, creating cloned embryos by combining human DNA and rabbit eggs and then killing them for their stem cells. We can't help but look on this with horror, while cloning proponents wish we would just look away.
They've also tried making exaggerated promises. Dr. Michael West told a Senate subcommittee last December that human cloning would provide cures at the rate of 3,000 per day. This is, of course, spectacularly untrue. But worse than that, it's cruel, because it gives people who are suffering the false hope of imminent relief.
They've also tried threats. Forty Nobel laureate scientists released a letter the day of the President's address claiming that a ban on cloning "would have a chilling effect on all scientific research in the United States." To be prevented from performing one bizarre procedure in the future that they've never been able to do in the past will – what? – prevent them from doing anything and everything? That sounds hysterical, but then I'm no Nobel laureate.
President Bush says that human cloning research would contradict the most fundamental norm of research ethics – that no human life be exploited simply for the benefit of another. Anything else would be barbarism. The exploitation wrought by human cloning would not be limited to the cloned human, but extend to the countless women whose eggs would be needed to make cloned embryos. It's grisly – millions of women giving up their eggs to scientists who will use them to create human beings whose sole purpose in life is to be killed.
What an ugly contrast to God's beautiful plan.
Cathleen Cleaver is Director for Planning and Information at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.