BEIJING, January 15, 2004 ( – China’s Ministry of Science of Technology and Ministry of Health recently released their “Guidelines for Research on Human Embryonic Stem Cells.” The document forbids ‘reproductive’ human cloning but permits “remedial cloning” and embryonic stem cell research. “Remedial cloning” refers to human cloning where the human beings created through the cloning process are not allowed to be born but are used whose cells are used for experimentation.

In a November 2002 address to the United Nations organization “International Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings,” Archbishop Renato Martino, the outgoing Vatican representative to the United Nations, spoke about both reproductive and therapeutic (or “remedial”) cloning. While also condemning reproductive cloning, the archbishop noted that therapeutic cloning is “an even more serious offence against human dignity and the right to life, since it involves human beings (embryos) who are created in order to be destroyed.” He said therapeutic cloning “must be” prohibited calling it an “exploitation of human beings, sought by certain scientific and industrial circles, and pushed forward by underlying economic interests.” 

A November 2001 Interim article calls the distinction between reproductive (creating a human being whose genetic make-up is nearly identical to another individual) and therapeutic cloning (creating a human embryo in order to destroy it for experimental purposes) “completely irrelevant to the moral argument over human cloning.”

The Interim continues, “The creation of clonal human beings in order to destroy them and experiment upon them is grotesque. To create tiny human beings in order to perform experiments upon them violates the right of all human beings not to be experimented upon without the person’s consent. Such research would be barbaric and even many in the mainstream recognize this. The Chicago Sun-Times editorialized that ‘The idea of the manufacture of such a magnificent thing as a human life purely for the purpose of conducting research is grotesque, at best.’ Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said it is ‘the most ghoulish and dangerous enterprise in modern scientific history: the creation of nascent cloned human life for the sole purpose of its exploitation and destruction.’”

“Furthermore, therapeutic cloning is a misnomer as there is absolutely no therapeutic value for the cloned human being. The embryo is, after all, destroyed for the benefit of another person. Such benefits as may arise with research based on therapeutic cloning are illicit gains – the sacrifice of one life for the alleged good of another.”

“But aside from the morality are important practical concerns. If a ban on only reproductive cloning were passed, there is no practical way to enforce it. If a clonal embryo intended for research purposes was nonetheless implanted in a woman, would the state force the woman to have an abortion to prevent a cloned human being from being born? In practice, to prevent reproductive cloning, we would have to mandate the destruction of therapeutic clones.” 

This is, in effect, what the Chinese proposal delineates – the destruction of cloned children that have been created for “remedial,” or therapeutic purpose. 

Read the Interim report:

Ban Human Cloning

Read the coverage:

Vatican Tells United Nations 'Therapeutic' Cloning is Worse Than Reproductive Cloning


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