Skip to comments.Here Come the NJ Clones
Posted on 02/03/2003 7:38:16 PM PST by Coleus
Here Come the Jersey Clones A devastating bill inches toward law.
The U.S. Congress remains practically agnostic on human cloning. Or so its inaction suggests. A bill sits in the House of Representatives waiting to face debate. A Senate bill sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback, too, waits in the wings. The president issued a challenge to the legislative branch to get moving during his State of the Union address last week, and to get moving toward a total prohibition on all human cloning not some half-baked ban that would, in the end, let the clone creation march onward anyway; just so long as you kill them in the end.
Congress may not be acting at the moment, but New Jersey is. On Monday, the Garden State's assembly's health committee takes up a particularly bad bill. Worse than the bad federal laws being proposed, the New Jersey bill does not even prohibit the implantation of a "cloned" embryo. The New Jersey bill would allow for the development of a clone up to and past birth, so long as scientists do not plan on someone raising the child they've created. It's only okay to clone, in other words, so long as you plan to kill the clone, ultimately.
If S1909/A2840 becomes state law, New Jersey would have the disastrous distinction of being the first state to allow human cloning and fetal harvesting the state would be allowing the manufacture of human beings to kill and use for their parts. As New Jersey Right to Life puts it, "This legislation opens a Pandora's box where human embryo and human fetal farms, human experimentation, and reproductive human cloning will be allowed to flourish."
All the while, however, the New Jersey bill, supported by "Superman," activist Christopher Reeve, claims to actually ban human cloning. This is possible because the bill defines cloning after birth.
The bill, in fact, reads like New Jersey lawmakers have taken on Princeton infanticide-defender Peter Singer as a consultant. The supposed ban reads: "A person who knowingly engages or assists, directly or indirectly, in the cloning of a human being is guilty of a crime of the first degree. As used in this act, 'cloning of a human being' means the replication of a human individual by cultivating a cell with genetic material through the egg, embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual" (emphasis added).
The New Jersey legislation "constitutes the moral madness of killing in the cause of healing with a possible profit motive that would encourage the grisly practice," according to a letter sent to Governor Jim McGreevey by four members of the President's Council on Bioethics (Princeton's Robert P. George, Stanford's William Hurlbut, Georgetown's Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, and Gilbert C. Meilaender of Valparaiso University).
In their letter, the four bioethics-commission members explain:
The pending legislation expressly authorizes the creation of new human beings by cloning and, perhaps unintentionally, their cultivation from the zygote stage through the newborn stage for the purpose of harvesting what the bills themselves refer to as "cadaveric" fetal tissue. Please pause to consider whose cadaver the tissue is to be derived from. It is the cadaver of a distinct member of the species homo sapiens a human being who would be brought into being by cloning and, presumably, implanted and permitted to develop to the desired stage of physical maturation for the purpose of being killed for the harvesting of his or her tissues.
Gerard V. Bradley, a constitutional law professor at the University of Notre Dame has warned that the effects of the bill, if passed would be "breathtaking, unprecedented, and widely regarded as morally disastrous. These effects include, most notably, a commercial market in the body parts of fetuses, and the birth of an unlimited number of 'cloned' babies."
Wesley J. Smith, author of Culture of Death: The Assault of Medical Ethics in America tells NRO: "It is remarkable and very telling that in less then two years, we have gone from 'only' wanting to harvest the stem cells from embryos left over from IVF procedures, to a state senate passing legislation that would permit the implantation and gestation of cloned fetuses to the ninth month, before requiring their destruction. This is not just a slide down a slippery slope, it is a headfirst plunge into the abyss."
Someone in the New Jersey assembly ought to consider the consequences of their disingenuous, devastating dive before they get human life in too deep, too late for second thoughts. And Congress should take a message from the Garden State before the Brave New World renders Capitol Hill irrelevant.
It contains two types of cells, but only one of those is destined to become part of the fetus -- the other will form the placenta. So at the blastocyst stage, all the cells which develop into the fetus are undifferentiated.
"Moreover, because therapeutic cloning requires the creation and disaggregation ex utero of blastocyst stage embryos, this technique raises complex ethical questions.""CRNT [cell replacement through nuclear transfer, aka therapeutic cloning] requires the deliberate creation and disaggregation of a human embryo."Robert P. Lanza, Arthur L. Caplan, Lee M. Silver, Jose B. Cibelli, Michael D. West, Ronald M. Green; "The ethical validity of using nuclear transfer in human transplantation"; The Journal of the American Medical Association284, 3175-3179; Dec 27, 2000.
My name is Edmund D. Pellegrino. I serve currently as professor of medicine and medical ethics at Georgetown University. In my 55 years in medicine, I have worked as a practicing clinician, research scientist, teacher, scholar in ethics and administrator. On the basis of all these experiences, I wish to oppose any relaxation of the current congressional ban on the production and use of living human embryos as the source of embryonic stem cells.
My objection is not directed against research involving multi-potential stem cells per se. The possibilities such cells offer for the replacement or repair of dead or dying cells in a variety of diseased organs is very great. Such research should be vigorously pursued and generously supported by federal and private funds.
My objection is grounded in the ethical impropriety of the deliberate production and destruction of living human embryos for the purpose of harvesting embryonic stem cells from the inner cell mass at the blastocyst stage of their early development. This extraction of the inner cell mass invariably results in the death of the embryo.
Effectively, this method ends the life of a new human being at its most vulnerable stage of existence. The human embryo is a member of the human species, the living result of the fusion of two living human cells. It is imprinted genetically as a unique member of the human species from the moment of conception. At that moment, it is set on its way to becoming a fully developed human adult. To interrupt this process is to violate the moral claim of a human being for protection at its most vulnerable stage. It is laudable to seek better ways to treat human disease and suffering.
But we are not free to use any means we choose. Even the good of others cannot justify the use of human embryos as mere means. The embryo's moral worth is not determined by its instrumental value for others. This would be to absolutize utility and to devalue the lives of all other classes of vulnerable human beings. The societal consequences are grave indeed.
These ethical objections cannot be over-ridden by the claim that the embryo is entitled to a "special respect" but that this respect can be violated if there is sufficient benefit for others. Respect is inherent in the moral status of what the human embryo is in fact. Respect is neither conferred nor removed by arbitrary social convention or convenience.
Nor can the ethical issues be side-stepped by calling the blastocyst a "pre-embryo." This is a euphemism of convenience with no ethical or biological justification. There is no arbitrary point at which we can logically confer or withdraw the moral claim of the embryo for protection of its life.
Moreover, there is genuine and increasing likelihood that the destruction of embryos is not necessary to obtain plutipotential stem cells. Recent work from very respectable scientific laboratories demonstrates the value of plutipotential stem cells from such sources as adult bone marrow (Johns Hopkins); adult human brain (University of Tennessee); neural stem cells (Harvard); muscle, thymus, T-cells, Epithelium stem cells (Tokyo); and autologous bone marrow cells. Use of cells from those sources would be morally defensible, since no living embryos are sacrificed. The effectiveness of these cells appears to equal that of cells obtained by destruction of living human embryos.
Pluripotential stem cells have enormous potential for human benefit, but, like all scientific research, research with these cells must be governed by ethical constraint. Lifting the Congressional ban is not justified logically; it is scientifically premature and unnecessary, and it is morally indefensible. If ethical constraint has any meaning, experiments involving production and destruction of living human embryos must not be done. Indeed, to be ethically sound the Congressional ban should be extended permanently to include privately supported as well as federally supported research involving the production and destruction of living human embryos. Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D.
Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D.- Dr. Pellegrino is the John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Georgetown University. He is the former director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Center for the Advanced Study of Ethics, and is the current director of the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown. He is the author of over 450 published items in medical science, philosophy, and ethics and is a member of numerous editorial boards. Dr. Pellegrino is a Master of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
The newly conceived individual human being is the director of all the form and function which hallmarks the lifetime of that individual. You've chosen to ignore the actual start of the individual continuum of this individual human life, in favor of characterizing the start of individuality as the point of cell differentiation for the embryonic body, yet the scientific facts proclaim that the differentiation begins at an earlier stage.
Growing tension between powerful forces over whether to enact a ban on all human cloning boils down to two ways of considering the status of the human embryo. There are those like President Bush and the vast majority of Americans who believe that a human embryo is a human being created by God in His image, through the sexual union of the male sperm and female egg. Others, represented in Congress by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ted Kennedy D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others, plus the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and many scientific groups who support human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, consider the human embryo engendered through assisted or a-sexual reproduction, to be a man-made object to be used and ultimately killed in scientific experiments.
In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, President Bush said, Because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity, and pass a law against all human cloning. The Weldon/Stupak Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003 to ban human cloning (H.R. 234) which passed the House in July 2001 and was stopped in the Senate by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), has been reintroduced in the House with 103 co-sponsors. Last week, the Brownback/Landrieu bill (S. 245), identical to the House version, was reintroduced in the Senate with 21 co-sponsors. In contrast, Senators Specter, Hatch, Feinstein and Kennedy have introduced a competing clone and kill bill (S. 303), which would allow the cloning of human embryos for experimentation, provided they are killed prior to 14 days of life. Their bill would result in the immoral and unethical establishment of what President Bush called human embryo farms.
In an opinion poll conducted by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) on his web site, the vast majority of respondents said they support a total ban on human embryo cloning. 92% support the Brownback-Weldon ban and 84% wish to ban the Specter-Hatch-Kennedy plan. The fact that Senator Frist did a poll on an issue so fundamental has led some to speculate that his support for a total ban may be conditional, especially in light of his previously stated endorsement of human embryonic stem cell research. The question arises: Does Senator Frist consider the human embryo to have an inviolable moral status?
David Freddoso, in the 1/13/03 edition of Human Events pointed out that, according to the Dec. 24, 2002 Boston Globe, Senator Frist met recently with officials from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) a Massachusetts-based research company that has already cloned human embryos. The meeting was, according to the Globe, arranged by wealthy ACT investors friendly with Frist, who were worried that the companys cloning work would soon be outlawed.
Mr. Fredossos report mentions the fact that last March, Frist expressed discomfort with a provision in the Weldon and Brownback bills that forbade importation into the United States of therapies produced from human clones. Senator Brownback (R-KS) argued at that time that such a provision was necessary in order to prevent an easy end-run around the law, a reasonable assumption for someone who wants a cloning ban to stick.
However, the prohibition is missing from the new cloning ban bills, S. 245 and H.R. 234. Its absence raises the concern that even if a ban were to be enacted, the U.S. biotech industry might still profit from the manufacture of human clones off-shore and the importation and sale of products made from them. The importation provision should be restored to the bills immediately in order to discourage off-shore cloning efforts.
In August of 2001, President Bush failed to stop stem cell experimentation on human embryos, instead allowing research to continue on cell lines derived from human embryos who had already been killed in privately funded research laboratories. At the same time, he formed The Presidents Council on Bioethics and appointed Dr. Leon Kass, M.D., Ph.D, a University of Chicago professor, as its chairman. Reportedly, it was Dr. Kass who advised the president to allow embryonic stem cell research to continue, albeit in a limited way.
Linda K. Bevington, MA, Director of Research at The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, described a meeting she had with Dr. Kass and fellow bioethicist Dr. Kevin FitzGerald, Ph.D, S.J. in an article published in the Winter 2001 issue of Dignity. She pointed out that Dr. Kass stated in his Congressional testimony on June 20, 2001 that, Anyone truly serious about preventing human reproductive cloning must seek to stop the process from the beginning, at the stage where the human somatic cell nucleus is introduced into the egg. In answer to her questions, Ms. Bevington says that, Kass defended the necessity of a comprehensive ban by asserting that it would be the only ban that would effectively prevent reproductive human cloning. He also asserted that a comprehensive cloning ban would place the burden of proof on cloning advocates to offer a convincing argument as to why we should endorse something that would transform humanity.
In October of 2002 at the American Enterprise Institute Book Forum featuring Human Cloning and Human Dignity, the report on human cloning by The Presidents Council on Bioethics, Diana Schaub, associate professor of political science at Loyola College in Maryland and a participant in the forum made the following statement: Cloning is an evil; and cloning for the purpose of research actually exacerbates the evil by countenancing the willful destruction of nascent human life. Moreover, it proposes doing this on a mass scale, as an institutionalized and routinized undertaking to extract medical benefits for those who have greater power. It is slavery plus abortion.
Dr. Kass, in his remarks, made this troubling comment: Yes, new lives would be created, and on a mass scale, purely to serve other peoples purposes. And, yes, such innocent, nascent lives would be willfully exploited and destroyed. But, I am not sufficiently confident about the ontological or moral status of a five-day-old embryo to speak in such abolitionist terms.
Today, even though the President and the vast majority of Americans demanding a ban on human cloning, Dr. Kass along with the majority on The Presidents Council on Bioethics, is supporting a total ban on so-called reproductive cloning but only a four-year moratorium on cloning for biomedical research. This is unacceptable. All cloning is reproductive. And it must be banned.
Many European countries have already banned human cloning. On February 3, 2003, the French Senate passed a comprehensive ban on human cloning as a crime against the human species and imposes a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for transgressors. It now goes to the Assembly and could become law by the end of June.
The United States must act, and quickly! The state of New Jersey is poised to enact a law allowing the cloning of human embryos and their implantation as long as they are killed for bio-medical research prior to the newborn stage! Stanford University announced in December that an anonymous donor had provided $12 million to establish a center devoted entirely to the study of human cloning and stem cell research. California Governor Gray Davis recently signed a bill that encourages scientists to pursue methods that generate embryonic stem cells. (Washington Update, 12/13/02)
The cloning ban bills with the importation prohibition restored should be passed and signed by the President without delay! Please convey that message to your representatives in Congress. 202-224-3121.