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Human cloning plans prompt Clinton to renew call for ban


WASHINGTON (BP)–President Clinton renewed his call for
Congress to ban human cloning in response to a Chicago
scientist’s announced intention to duplicate human beings.
In his weekly radio address Jan. 10, Clinton said human
cloning “raises deep concerns, given our cherished concepts
of faith and humanity. Beyond that, however, we know there
is virtually unanimous consensus in the scientific and
medical communities that attempting to use these cloning
techniques to actually clone a human being is untested and
unsafe and morally unacceptable.”
Acting on the recommendation of the National Bioethics
Advisory Commission, the president sent legislation to
Congress last year outlawing human cloning for at least five
years. Congress did not act on the measure.
Clinton renewed his call for a ban four days after it
was reported Richard Seed, a Chicago scientist, planned to
clone a human being in 18 months. He has enlisted a team of
doctors for the project, with four infertile couples chosen
from a small pool of volunteers to be cloned, The Washington
Post reported.
Southern Baptist bioethics specialist Ben Mitchell said
the president’s recommendation falls short of what is
needed.
“This series of events is just the kind of thing we
were concerned about all along, and that’s why from the
beginning we supported legislation to ban human cloning,”
said Mitchell, assistant professor of Christian ethics at
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a consultant for
the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“We applaud the president’s initiative but urge him to
go further and call for an indefinite ban and to work with
multinational organizations to initiate a worldwide ban.
People like Richard Seed are not going away in five years.
We need an indefinite ban on human cloning.”
Said John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute, a
Virginia-based religious liberty and human rights
organization, “Allowing ‘scientists’ like Dr. Seed to follow
through on their reckless plans would set the dangerous
precedent of total disregard for the sanctity of human life
in scientific endeavors.”
If Congress bans human cloning, Seed plans to move his
project to a location such as Tijuana, Mexico; the Cayman
Islands; or the Bahamas, he told The Washington Times.
Seed, a physicist, first revealed his plans at a
scientific meeting in early December at Chicago, but they
did not become well known until news reports beginning Jan.
6.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” Jan. 11, House of
Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey, R.-Texas, said
his chamber already should have passed a ban on human
cloning, according to The Times.
“From my point of view, God is in his heaven,” said
Armey. “He has already created man as perfectly as he can in
his own image, and we don’t need a bunch of amateurs down
here doing what they think they can do. It’s God’s business
and not ours.”
Sen. Christopher Bond, R.-Mo., and Rep. Vernon Ehlers,
R.-Mich., both introduced bills last year banning federal
funding of human cloning research. Ehlers also sponsored
legislation prohibiting human cloning. In light of Seed’s
plans, both said they would push for a ban on the practice
itself, The Times reported.
Messengers to the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention
annual meeting in Dallas adopted a resolution calling on
Congress to ban all research on human embryos as well as the
cloning of human beings. The resolution also urged Congress
to push for an international policy to prohibit human
cloning worldwide.
In March of last year, Clinton issued an executive
order prohibiting the use of federal funds for human cloning
and calling for a voluntary moratorium on private research.
The president’s action followed the Feb. 22 announcement
that Scottish researchers had cloned the first adult mammal,
a sheep named Dolly. Since that breakthrough, concern about
the possibility of human cloning has multiplied.
Clinton’s legislation would not ban animal cloning.