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We must draw a line in the sand against cloningTwo days after Christmas, a company called Clonaid announced that a human clone had been born to a 31-year-old American woman. Like the announcement 13 months earlier that Advanced Cell Technology created cloned embryos in order to extract stem cells, Clonaid's announcement drew the ire of President Bush and pro-life groups, as well as renewed calls for federal legislation banning all forms of human cloning.
Clonaid's connection to a cult that believes space aliens created life on earth and their lack of enthusiasm to provide proof that their "scientific achievement" is legitimate have cast doubts on whether they actually managed to create a human clone that survived long enough to be born. Advanced Cell Technology's clones did not survive past the embryonic stage. Other statements by Clonaid representatives have further cast doubt on the legitimacy of the organization. Clonaid Vice President Thomas Kaenzig said of cloning opponents: "There's too many religious zealots in this country who could use a bomb like at abortion clinics", according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Since Jim Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party cost the GOP control of the U.S. Senate, obstructionist tactics by former Senate Majority Leader and Democratic Presidential hopeful Tom Daschle have prevented the Senate from acting on a cloning ban. Meanwhile a bill banning all forms of human cloning passed the House of Representatives by a significant margin. With Republicans again controlling both houses of Congress, the pressure to pass a cloning ban is increasing.
President Bush must take a leadership role in this matter and step up pressure for a bill banning all forms of human cloning. Now that Republicans again control the Senate after a decisive election two months ago, this bill can be quickly brought to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote, where it will likely pass. The President must also take a strong stand against the "clone and kill" legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). This sham of a "ban" on cloning is nothing of the sort. Feinstein's bill only bans cloning for reproductive purposes, but would allow the creation of human clones for "scientific research", creating human lives for the purposes of experimenting on and killing them. Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee was quoted on the NRLC Web site saying:
"Members of the species homo sapiens would be cloned in huge numbers, and the FBI would be given the unethical responsibility of ensuring the destruction of every cloned human embryo. This is not a compromise or a 'partial ban' on human cloning, but a scheme for establishing an industry of human embryo farms."
Indeed, NRLC points out that the Boston Globe reported on June 21st that many laboratories are quietly preparing to create human clones for research purposes. The "clone and kill" bill is strongly supported by the biotech industry, which hopes to make a killing (figuratively and literally) off of human cloning. If Congress fails to pass a comprehensive ban on all human cloning, it will have placed profits over people in the most gruesome way possible.
Brigitte Boisselier, chief executive of Clonaid, told the Associated Press: "The baby is very healthy. The parents are happy. I hope that you remember them when you talk about this baby - not like a monster, like some results of something that is disgusting." Of course, the baby, if it is indeed a clone, is not a "monster", but looking her should actually increase opposition to human cloning: does little, innocent, defenseless Eve deserve to be experimented on by amoral "scientists"?
Human life is not ours to experiment on. That is the core issue here, not whether we have the right to create human life by means other than sexual reproduction. Cloning research involves the creation of human life for the purposes of experimenting on that new life. Once an embryo is created, from sexual reproduction or cloning, it is genetically no different from a full grown adult. All that it added from that point forward is nutrition, shelter and time. There is no ethical justification for using that new human being as a subject for "scientific" experimentation. After scientists cloned a sheep, they discovered it was not a perfect clone: it aged prematurely. How many cloned human beings will be created that will die before being born, or will suffer serious birth defects and genetic disorders?
Now that Tom Daschle and his obstructionist tactics are out of the way, Congress must take a stand for human rights and human life by banning all forms of human cloning, for both reproduction and "research". With the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade approaching, Congress can make no stronger statement on the value it places on human life than by passing this much-needed legislation.