Bioethics Council Unlikely to Reach Consensus on Cloning

Members Aim to Articulate Arguments for Political Leaders

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Members of President George W. Bush´s Council on Bioethics have given up hope of reaching consensus on the ethics of human cloning for the purpose of medical research and treatments, the Associated Press reported today.



The council hopes instead to present a thoughtful discussion of the arguments on each side to help the president, members of Congress and other policy-makers understand the ramifications of each course of action. Bush has said he opposes all forms of cloning.

"The important thing is for people to have a full understanding of all the arguments," said Leon Kass, the council chairman and bioethicist at the University of Chicago.

Congress is poised to approve a ban on cloning for the purpose of making a baby, both because it is not safe scientifically and because of moral objections. At issue is whether to include cloning aimed at creating embryonic stem cells for research and treatment. A bill that passed the House last year included all cloning, but in the Senate, there is considerable opposition to a total ban.

Council members also are opposed to reproductive cloning, though they have yet to articulate whether their objections are solely practical or also moral, or what the precise moral objections are.

At the conclusion of a two-day meeting Thursday, there was even less agreement on therapeutic cloning, in which a cloned embryo is created for research or medical treatments and destroyed before ever developing
into a fetus.

Researchers hope to create embryonic stem cells that could develop into compatible organs and replace such things as a patient´s ailing hearts, livers and kidneys.