Thursday, September 08, 2005

The future of fetal farming

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a very thoroughly researched article up discussing "research cloning" and current state legislation regarding cloning. We are on the "The Legislative Slippery Slope to Fetus Farming", as the USCCB puts it.
Until recently, groups promoting research cloning, such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), supported state and federal bills that prohibit implanting a cloned embryo in a womb. For example, in Congress they supported the “Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act” of 2003 (S. 303). That bill actually allowed the human cloning procedure, calling it “nuclear transplantation,” but banned two things: (1) “implanting or attempting to implant the product of nuclear transplantation into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus”; and (2) maintaining such a cloned human embryo for “more than 14 days from its first cell division,” not counting time spent in a freezer.3

BIO told the President’s Council on Bioethics in June 2003 that it supported this 14-day limit – adding that this may be reconsidered “umpteen years” from now in light of new facts.4

Yet months before making these remarks to the President’s Council, BIO was urging its state affiliates to help pass laws violating this 14-day limit. The national group recommended a new California law on cloning as a “model” for other states.5 That law authorizes “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation.”6 California law also bans initiating a pregnancy using a cloned human embryo, but only if that pregnancy “could result in the birth of a human being.”7

In fact, the same official who presented BIO’s testimony to the President’s Council on Bioethics had already testified in support of a New Jersey bill with this same broad language.8 After critics pointed out that the New Jersey bill did not even really ban “reproductive” cloning, the bill’s sponsors made its extreme scope even clearer. The final law bans “cloning of a human being,” defined as “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.”9 Developing the cloned embryo to any point short of this to harvest cells and tissues is allowed, and the governor later decided it could be publicly funded. Only letting the cloned human survive “through” this entire process is prohibited.

Read more at the USCCB Pro-life Activities site.