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UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR BAN ON ALL HUMAN CLONING
Resolution is non-binding; reflects divided international opinion.
NEW YORK | After four years of acrimonious debate, a divided United
Nations passed a non-binding resolution that calls on its member nations
to ban all human cloning.
Cloning advocates immediately said they would continue their work, while
pro-life forces cheered it as a victory of principle and the U.S. bishops
pro-life office said the resolution will have a "profound impact on
human cloning debates around the world, including in the United States."
"The UN has powerfully demonstrated that naked science is not the be-all
and end-all of the pursuit of human progress. Morality matters too,"
said Wesley J. Smith, author of Consumers Guide to a Brave New World,
in a statement from Ad Hoc Committee of Research Scientists and Physicians.
The 87-34 vote, with 37 abstentions, on March 8th will likely
not stop any of the human cloning endeavors underway worldwide and within
the U.S. In November 2004, California voters in voted to allow the creation
of a $3 billion stem cell institute. A Congressional bill to ban human cloning,
sponsored by Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, will be introduced again
this year in Washington.
Catholic teaching opposes cloning, whether therapeuticusing the embryo
for spare partsor reproductive, making a baby from the exact DNA of
its parent. The process is exactly the same in either case; the purpose
is the only difference.
British Health Secretary John Reid said Britain would continue to support
therapeutic cloning. The United Kingdoms stem cell research industry
remained "open for business," Reid said, according to reporting
by the BBC. Reproductive cloning is banned in Britain but not therapeutic
"Fortunately it is non-binding, which means the U.K. can continue to
pursue the promising avenues of research opened up by the use of carefully
regulated human therapeutic cloning," said Professor Richard Gardner,
chair of the British Royal Societys working group.
Nevertheless, the resolution is a good step, said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, spokesperson
for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Secretariat.
"The U.N.s new declaration against all forms of human cloning
is a powerful statement in favor of the dignity and inviolability of human
life," said Cleaver Ruse, bishops spokesperson, in a statement.
"And it provides no support for so-called therapeutic cloning
which treats human life as a commodity to be created for experimentation."
On November 19, 2004, the U.N. indefinitely postponed a treaty to ban human
cloning that was proposed by Costa Rico, and supported by the U.S. and Germany.
Most of the nations that voted against the March 8th non-binding
resolution to ban cloning said they wanted to continue therapeutic cloning,
where an embryo is created and the cells extracted while the embryo is destroyed.
Many scientists believe the technology will lead to cures for conditions
such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons Disease and Lou Gehrigs
disease, although no treatments have been developed.
Most Islamic countries abstained because they did not want to rule out therapeutic
cloning. Sen. Brownback, the Senates leading opponent of human cloning,
commended the U.N. in a statement, saying " Human cloning leads to
the creation of a new class of human beings subject to the whims of another
class of people. Any time in history when we have subjected one class of
human beings to enslavement by another class has been wrong. This time is
The Declaration on Human Cloning was negotiated by a U.N. Working Group
in February after attempts to craft a binding global treaty failed last
year. Honduras sponsored the resolution and Costa Rica, the U.S., and Italy
as well as the Vatican and pro-life groups backed the treaty and then the
resolution. Among the countries voting against it were Great Britain, South
Korea and China.
The first known case of cloning of a human embryo was announced in February
2004 by South Korean scientists who grew the embryo for seven or eight days
before destroying it, they said. Mice, sheep, and cats have been cloned
beginning with Dolly the sheep in Britain in 1996.
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