US cardinal urges Congress to reject new cloning legislation

 Citing the "growing national and international consensus that human cloning has no place in our society," Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua urged Congress to approve the Weldon/Stupak Human Cloning Prohibition Act (HR 534) and to reject "deceptive substitute measures." The case for HR 534 is even stronger today than when the House overwhelmingly approved this legislation in July, 2001, Cardinal Bevilacqua said. The Cardinal is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He wrote to members of Congress on February 25. Cardinal Bevilacqua said the past two years have shown how exaggerated were the claims of supporters of human cloning for biomedical research. "Embryonic stem cell research in general has encountered numerous practical and scientific obstacles, including difficulties in culturing these stem cells and the cells" own tendency to form lethal tumours when transferred into animals," he wrote. "Medical research is developing new and promising treatments for Parkinson's, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses" but these are from adult stem cell research and other approaches that pose no moral problem." "While the practical case against all human cloning has become stronger, the basic moral issue has not changed," the Cardinal continued. "Cloning dehumanizes human procreation, treating new human life as a mere laboratory product made to specifications. Whether used to bring cloned human embryos to live birth (so-called "reproductive" cloning), or to exploit them as sources of "spare parts" for other humans (so-called "therapeutic" cloning), human cloning diminishes us all. The allegedly lofty goals proposed for human cloning cannot outweigh the grim reality of the activity itself." Cardinal Bevilacqua said HR 801, offered by Rep. Greenwood as an alternative to the Weldon/Stupak ban, does not address the moral problem of cloning. "Misnamed a "cloning prohibition act," it would directly involve the federal government in registering for-profit human cloning laboratories and supervising their manufacture of human beings as research material. By assigning this task to the Food and Drug Administration, Congress would treat the cloned human embryo as a marketable "biological product," to be exploited for benefit to others and tested for its safety and effectiveness. Congress would define a class of human beings whose only status is as a commodity." "This is a case in which proposals offered as halfway or compromise measures are worse than doing nothing at all," Cardinal Bevilacqua said. "In keeping with the growing national and international consensus that human cloning has no place in our society, Congress should ban this practice outright. I urge you to reject deceptive substitute measures and approve HR 534," he wrote. source: US Bishops Conference

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