March 10, 2001
volume 12, no. 69

US, Italian Scientists Announce Plans to Clone Humans

Philippines Church Says No to Cloning Human Embryos

    ROME, Mar. 9, 01 ( - US and Italian scientists announced on Friday that they plan to create the first cloned human being, despite criticism from many quarters including religious, pro-life, human rights, and bioethics groups.

    Panayiotis Zavos, an American, and Severino Antinori, an Italian, said they plan to clone humans to provide children to infertile couples. The pair had previously made headlines by helping a 62-year-old woman give birth. Zavos and Antinori said they will conduct the cloning experiments in an undisclosed Mediterranean country to avoid local controversy and laws which have already been passed to ban human cloning.

    "Cloning may be considered as the last frontier to overcome male sterility and give the possibility to infertile males to pass on their genetic pattern," Antinori told a news conference. "Some people say we are going to clone the world, but this isn't true... I'm asking all of us in the scientific community to be prudent and calm," he said. "We're talking science, we're not here to create a fuss."

    Bishop Elio Sgreccia, head of the John Paul II Institute for Bioethics at Rome's Gemelli hospital, said human cloning raised profoundly disturbing ethical issues. "Those who made the atomic bomb went ahead in spite of knowing about its terrible destruction," he told Reuters Television before the cloning meeting started. "But this doesn't mean that it was the best choice for humanity."

    "The forecasts (about human cloning) sadden us but don't scare us," he said.

    Meanwhile in Manila, The Philippine bishops' conference has condemned the cloning of human embryos, a procedure which goes against human nature and violates two fundamental principles on which all human rights are based: the equality among human beings and the principle of non-discrimination.

    "Cloning of human embryos cannot be justified, no matter how much good it might provide for humanity,especially persons affected with irreversible and incurable illnesses," said by Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi, OP, of Nueva Caseras, chairman of the Office on Bio-ethics of the Philippine Bishops' Conference. Scientists claim that the research would not only help studies on infertility and detection of birth defects, it would also be used to open the possibility of transplants to prevent or cure scores of illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and diabetes.

    From the point of view of Christian morality, the archbishop affirmed, human cloning is inadmissible for six reasons: (1) It is against nature to create an embryo artificially, without any connection with sexuality; (2) Cloning implies the destruction of manipulated embryos. The embryo is already a human being; (3) Cloning of a human person is a technique which is devoid of a spiritual dimension; (4) Cloning is against the dignity, uniqueness, and originality of each person, and it reduces the person to an object; (5) Cloning violates the principles of equality and non discrimination, implicating the dominion of one person, the scientist, over another, introducing a selective-eugenic scheme; (6) Benefits cannot be used as a reason to justify an inherently vitiated procedure.

March 10, 2001
volume 12, no. 69
Pro Life News
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