Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
February 12, 2001
Ethicists reject regulated cloning
Practice must be banned, they say in response to researcher
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Creating human beings through cloning should be banned in Canada because it violates the integrity of the human person, say local Catholic ethicists.
Father Mark Miller, director of the Redemptorist Bioethics Consultancy in Western Canada, says producing a child more or less identical with another human being is "inherently wrong from the point of view of the child."
That's because "what you are doing is creating a child in accord with another human pattern, not in accord with the gift of uniqueness that every other human being has."
"My biggest problem personally with it (cloning) is that we reduce persons to objects that we can manipulate," said Sister Mary Lou Cranston, director of the Bioethics Centre at St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta.
"It just goes against our dignity as human persons that we can manipulate (human life) like that."
Eric Kilbreath, another member of the St. Joseph's Bioethics Centre, said cloning "is not a way to bring a child into the world" because is not the result of the sexual union between man and woman.
"It lacks dignity. A child should get its genetic identity from the mother and father, not just one person."
The ethicists made their comments in response to statements from a prominent University of Alberta researcher who said human cloning is not inherently wrong.
Tim Caulfield, research director of the U of A's Health Law Institute, said those who argue cloning is offensive to human dignity are in effect saying humans are no more than the sum of their genes.
Caulfield may be the first reputable Canadian researcher to oppose a ban on cloning. He says there are safety concerns associated with cloning humans - for example clones may be more susceptible to cancer or other medical conditions.
But that calls for government oversight, not a criminal ban, Caulfield told the Feb. 1 Edmonton Journal.
Further, a private consortium of British scientists recently announced plans to clone a human within two years.
Miller noted cloning humans is still at the experimental stage and warned that experimenting with humans is very different than experimenting with animals.
"And so I think there is an awful lot of arrogance in the idea that we cloned a monkey and we cloned a sheep and we cloned a cow so now we can clone a human being," he said.
Miller said setting regulations for human cloning would send the message that "the cloning of human beings is a good thing and my response to that would be to say that I think there is some inherent evil in it."
Many want to use cloning to replace a lost child. "To me that's an insult not only to the child that's died but also to the child that's being created because you can't replace a child," Miller said.
"The person would never be a clone of the first person anyway," Cranston said. "So even if we did clone (a child) he is not going to be identical because he is going to live in a different environment and is going to be influenced by that environment."
She is also worried about where the practice would lead. "What's going to happen is going to be that we are going to start creating them (clones) with blue eyes but not brown eyes, tall not short, white skinned rather than brown skinned and I think that to me is a big risk," she said.
Although the ethicists support a ban on cloning humans, they do see a value in the cloning of human body parts. "I think there could be some value down the line to be able to clone a second heart for me or something like that," Cranston said.
But even that should be regulated by government standards, she said.
Human cloning is currently legal in Canada. The federal government has been promising for several years to bring in legislation to regulate new reproductive technologies.
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