WASHINGTON (BP)–A coalition of more than a dozen pro-life organizations says the so-called “therapeutic cloning” proposal supported by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is frighteningly similar to genetic “research” conducted by the Nazis during World War II, CNSNews.com reported.
“Only a few decades ago, Nazi Third Reich physicians conducted fatal medical experiments on those whom they considered to be of lesser worth than others,” Rob Schenck, president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC) said May 7.
“In our day, human cloning is proposed for its reproductive and research benefits,” he continued. “Human cloning would cheapen human life and coarsen society; it would ignore the warning of the Third Reich.”
Hatch announced late last month that he would support legislation co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), that would allow “therapeutic cloning” while banning “human cloning.”
“I come to this issue with a strong pro-life, pro-family record but I also strongly believe that a critical part of being pro-life is to support measures that help the living,” Hatch said, noting claims by supporters of research on cloned embryos that many diseases and disabilities could be treated or even cured by potential discoveries.
“This is pretty close to hogwash,” Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a physician who regularly treats patients with chronic diseases and disabilities told CNSNews.com.
“It’s highly speculative and, in my opinion, quite questionable, quite dubious that there would ever be any clinical applications of this technology,” he added.
Charles Nestor, senior fellow for public policy research of the National Clergy Council and a member of the NPRC, says Hatch’s “help the living” explanation betrays “an ‘end-justifies-the-means’ reasoning.”
“No one would deny the value of cured diseases, or prolonged and increased quality of life,” Nestor said. “But the manner in which these valuable ends are achieved must be equally moral and ethical to be acceptable.”
Nestor, who uses a wheelchair as a result of his 12-year battle with multiple sclerosis, says he looks forward to the discovery of a cure for his disease.
“I long for the day that I can play golf, that I can play ball with my grandchildren, and that I can simply walk through the shopping mall with my wife,” he added. “But I would never want that day to come as the result of a human life being sacrificed so that I could personally benefit.”
Hatch argues, however, that he is not calling for such a sacrifice. He says his position is both moral and ethical because “therapeutic cloning” involves the reproduction only of human cells, not “carbon copies” of human beings.
“At the core of my support for regenerative medicine and research is my belief that human life requires and begins in a mother’s nurturing womb,” Hatch explained.
The NPRC holds a very different view, as articulated by Dennis Di Mauro, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s representative to the group.
“Life begins at conception,” he argued. “So-called ‘therapeutic cloning’ is an attempt to decide what human life is important and what human life can be experimented on and then thrown away like garbage.”
Hatch says he “respectfully disagrees” with that interpretation.
But Nestor says the U.S. government must err on the side of caution in its view of when human life begins.
“As long as there is deeply held and profound disagreement on this subject,” he urged, “human cloning must be forestalled by law in this country.”
NPRC is supporting the Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S. 1899) sponsored by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Schenck says it is the only bill that truly protects human life by banning all human cloning.
“Voting against the Brownback-Landrieu bill, the U.S. Senate would lead American society toward the unacceptable belief that one human being can be used to benefit another,” he charged, adding that by opposing the bill Hatch has “lost the right” to call himself “pro-life.”
“We are disappointed to now have to list Senator Orrin Hatch among those who would stand against the dignity of human life,” Schenck concluded.
Johnson is the congressional bureau chief with www.CNSNews.com. Used by permission.