Therapeutic Cloning Assailed as Creation for Sake of Destruction

Vatican Urges U.N. Consensus on a Total Ban

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NEW YORK, OCT. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- U.N. failure to ban human cloning for research would involve the organization in legitimizing the creation of human beings for the express purpose of destroying them, warns the Vatican.



"How many human lives are we willing to take in this process?" asked Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, in an address Oct. 21.

"Since the process is unnecessary and would require more than one embryo per patient treated, hundreds of millions of cloned human embryos would be required to treat even one disease, such as diabetes, in any developed nation," he observed. The Vatican press office released the text of the address today.

Delegations, representatives of civil society, and scientists agree almost unanimously on the prohibition of human cloning for reproductive ends. But the use of human cloning for so-called therapeutic cloning -- for research purposes -- is stirring heated debate.

The moral dilemma of this second practice, the Holy See explained within the past three weeks in a document circulating among the working groups, lies in the fact that a human embryo, whether or not cloned, enjoys the same dignity proper to every human being and, therefore, cannot be created and destroyed for the simple purpose of extracting its cells and other materials.

In the debate, some 40 countries, led by Costa Rica and supported by the United States, have requested that, given these ethical reasons, it is necessary to approve a convention that prohibits both reproductive human cloning as well as "therapeutic" cloning.

Reuters reported Oct. 8 that this position was opposed by a group of 14 governments, which insisted that the first priority should be to speedily prohibit human cloning, leaving individual governments to decide how to regulate therapeutic cloning.

In his address, Archbishop Migliore said the United Nations must "uphold the rights of all human beings."

"If the United Nations were to ban reproductive cloning without banning cloning for research, this would, for the first time, involve this body in legitimizing something extraordinary: the creation of human beings for the express purpose of destroying them," he said.

"If human rights are to mean anything, at any time, anywhere in the world, then surely no one can have the right to do such a thing," the archbishop added. "Human rights flow from the recognition that human beings have an intrinsic dignity that is based on the fact that they are human. Human embryos are human, even if they are cloned. If the rest of us are to have the rights that flow from the recognition of this dignity, then we must act to ban cloning in all its forms."

"While a partial convention might address temporarily some issues related to human cloning, it could generate subsequently greater problems, even more difficult to solve," the papal representative concluded.