Tags: The | False | Promise | 'Therapeutic' | Cloning

The False Promise of 'Therapeutic' Cloning

Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:00 AM

The entire issue baffles many people. For example, why should "reproductive" cloning be punishable by 10 years in prison, while "therapeutic" cloning is made perfectly legal? And why did Arlen Specter talk about stem cell research while introducing a bill on cloning?

We believe the terms of this debate are intentionally deceptive.

Because most people are against human cloning, we think pro-cloners purposely confuse us about what they are hoping to do.

Even the United Nations General Assembly, by a 3-1 vote in early March, approved a resolution urging the world to "prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and protection of human life."

So the battle is on between the few who want cloning and the rest who don't.

Cloning legislation can be defeated when the rest of us understand the actual meaning of the terms being used, so let's clarify a few – starting with cloning.

There are three ways to create a human embryo. The first is by sexual intercourse. The second way is by in vitro fertilization, where the egg and sperm are introduced to each other in the laboratory.

The third is by cloning. This would involve surgically removing an egg from a woman's ovary, extracting the nucleus from that egg, and inserting the nucleus from a cell of the person being cloned. If the entire process worked well, the resulting genetically modified egg would have 46 chromosomes, would be a full human embryo, and might grow up into an almost identical twin (although younger) of the person being cloned.

Not surprisingly, the process of making a cloned embryo is both difficult and expensive.

The distinction between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning is a sinister artifice.

Cloning is called "reproductive" when the cloned embryo is implanted in a woman and a baby is born. The birth of the resulting baby is the crime, not the cloning.

Cloning is called "therapeutic" when the human embryo or growing fetus is used in experiments looking for human cures, and would be legal as long as the developing cloned person is killed before it is born.

Bills to allow cloning have been sprouting like mushrooms in legislatures all over the state and federal landscape. New Jersey passed S. 1909 last year, making it legal to create an embryo by cloning, implant the cloned embryo in a woman, and allow gestation for nine months up to pre-birth.

Legislators in Texas, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois and Washington state have introduced similar bills. But whenever the true intent of a particular proposal is exposed, it loses support.

Now let's look briefly at stem cell research – which Arlen Specter and others so frequently mix in with the cloning debate.

Stem cell therapies have enjoyed success in human trials for treating heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson's, and have potential for producing viable treatments. No one is opposed to research with "adult" stem cells, because countless all-purpose, unspecialized cells are in everyone's bodies. As needed, our body transforms its stem cells into specialized cells, such as blood and nerve cells. And we don't have to be killed in the process of collecting a few of these cells.

Many are opposed, however, to the harvesting of embryonic stem cells because it requires killing the human embryo to obtain the stem cells. (President Bush limited federal funding for this kind of killing; he did not outlaw private funding.)

But that's not the only reason for the opposition.

Another is that embryos are hard to obtain outside the womb, either by in vitro or cloning methods.

Third, experimentally treating disease with stem cells extracted from embryos has so far been associated with intractable problems, such as tumors and a high immunologic rejection rate. These drawbacks in animal testing have been so severe that experimental human treatment trials are currently too dangerous.

So why do the media and legislators ignore the successes of non-embryonic or "adult" stem cell research, while promoting extraordinary curative claims for embryonic stem cell research?

And why is stem cell research so often linked with debates on cloning?

We think the answers may lie in the ardent appetite for human embryos.

The cloning process enables almost unlimited opportunity for researchers to experiment with unborn human beings. The ultimate intent of legislation that allows "therapeutic" cloning is to open a back door to fetal farming for spare parts and to foster eugenics with genetic engineering.

The key tactic has been diversionary. Cloning supporters distract us by saying that they conduct research on stem "cells" rather than "embryos"; that miraculous cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and Hodgkin's are just around the corner; and that we can support the foul deed because "reproductive" cloning is criminalized.

Be alert. Any legislation that allows human cloning, however it is defined, is profoundly ominous – and worthy of our best efforts to oppose it.

Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Senior Fellow and Board Member of the Discovery Institute and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple-award-winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues.


© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

1Like our page
The entire issue baffles many people. For example, why should "reproductive" cloning be punishable by 10 years in prison, while "therapeutic" cloning is made perfectly legal?And why did Arlen Specter talk about stem cell research while introducing a bill on cloning? We...
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved