Do No Harm Comments on President’s Council on Bioethics Report Recommending Moratorium on Human Cloning

Date: 07/11/2002

Do No Harm is encouraged that the majority of the President’s Council on Bioethics recommends a ban – albeit a temporary one – on cloning human embryos for use in biomedical research.

Most encouraging is that the report makes clear human cloning always produces a human embryo, regardless whether the intent is to bring the embryo to live birth, or destroy it in research. Such clarity casts a revealing light on the many Orwellian attempts by research cloning advocates – including members of the Senate–to manipulate language in order to obscure this very basic fact. Under this clear definition of human cloning and what cloning produces, it is clear that the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2002,” offered by Sens. Feinstein, Kennedy, Specter and Hatch, despite its deceptive name, would not, in fact, ban human cloning.

However, we believe the council erred in calling for a permanent ban on cloning to produce children, while recommending only a four-year moratorium on cloning for biomedical research. This continues to suggest that there are indeed two different “types” of cloning based on intent, and that it may be possible to ban the one while one day allowing the other. Yet it is clear, as the Department of Justice has noted, that permitting research cloning to move forward will make it virtually impossible to enforce a ban on cloning to produce children.

Do No Harm would have preferred for the Council to have treated equally human cloning undertaken for whatever purpose, but a four year moratorium can nonetheless be helpful. Such a moratorium on human cloning will encourage researchers to continue and expand research efforts using adult stem cells and other scientifically promising and morally unobjectionable approaches to curing disease.

Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics is a national coalition of researchers, health care professionals, bioethicists, legal professionals, and others dedicated to the promotion of scientific research and health care which does no harm to human life. Do No Harm rejects the course of action taken by the National Institutes of Health, to support destructive human embryo stem cell research. Instead, our government should promote adult stem cell research which protects the inviolability of all individuals, rejects harming some for the potential benefit of others, and holds as much, if not more promise, for medical progress.