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WORCESTER, MA., November 26, 2001 (LSN.ca) – “The news that scientists from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) Center in Worchester, Massachusetts have cloned a human embryo ushers in a dark era for humanity,” says Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition. Hughes was reacting to yesterday’s announcement by the company that they had used somatic cell nuclear transfer to create a human clone which survived until the six-cell stage before it stopped dividing.

Published first in Scientific American and in the Journal of Regenerative Medicine, ACT revealed that it first found evidence of their living human clone on October 13. The journal reports it took a total of 71 eggs from seven volunteers before we could generate our first cloned early embryo. The Journal also reports that in a similar experiment, they succeeded in prompting human eggs-on their own, with no sperm to fertilize them-to develop parthenogenetically into blastocysts.

The scientists at ACT claimed “Our intention is not to create cloned human beings but rather to make lifesaving therapies for a wide range of human disease conditions.” Their actions received condemnation the world over. President Bush condemned the act saying, through his spokesman Ari Fleisher that human cloning, lays bare “the conundrum of scientific progress, where progress can also be measured in terms of how many lives will be taken to save a life.” The President “hopes that as a result of this first crossing of the line – and the first step into a morally consequential realm of creating a life to take a life in the name of science – that the Senate will act on the House legislation so that this procedure can be banned,” Fleischer said.

On July 31, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 265-162 in favor of the Weldon-Stupak bill (H.R. 2505), which would ban all cloning of human beings, including human embryos. The U.S. Senate is currently scheduled to vote on such legislation in February or March.

One defender of the Advanced Cell Technology cloning experiments reportedly claimed that the embryos were not “human” life, but “cellular” life. NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented, “Each of us began our individual life as an embryo. We were human when we were embryos, and these cloned embryos are human lives, too. Once begun, human lives—including human lives begun by cloning—should be protected, not killed to provide biological raw material.” Johnson warned that unless Congress acts quickly, this corporation and others will be opening human embryo farms.”

The Vatican said the cloning experiments called for “unequivocal condemnation” despite its humanistic intents. The Vatican release said that with such experiments a false principle is introduced where “discrimination between human beings is based on their developmental stages (therefore an embryo is worth less than a fetus, a fetus less than a child, a child less than an adult).”“This perverted science is meddling with human life and proposes to use human beings for the purpose of experimentation. Scientists know that the most viable form of stem cell research is already available in adult stem cells. Their only purpose in this research is to play God with human life,” said Hughes. Campaign Life Coalition called on the Canadian government to ban all cloning in Canadian institutions and to respect all human life in each stage of development including the earliest stage.

See related coverage:  https://www.sciam.com/explorations/2001/112401ezzell/

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