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Articles on Cloning and Stem Cells

Bush, Pro-Life Groups Criticize New California Stem Cell Law

Source: Los Angeles Times, Washington Times; September 23, 2002
Washington, DC -- The White House yesterday took issue with a new California law that supports embryonic stem cell research and research cloning that kills unborn children, in spite of the Bush administration's efforts to limit or prohibit such pursuits. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that President Bush "believes that all policies, state or federal, need to respect the culture of life. He differs with Gov. Davis on this."
The California law, which pro-abortion Gov. Gray Davis signed on Sunday, is a first-of-its-kind piece of state legislation that allows destructive embryonic stem cell research, including research on stem cells taken from cloned human embryos.
In response to the signing of the California law, pro-life groups yesterday called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of human cloning techniques for use in both embryonic stem cell research and reproductive technologies. "This is objectionable," said Jan Carroll, a legislative analyst with the California ProLife Council. "Every life deserves protection under the law. We don't believe parents or the state has a moral right to consent to fatal research. We will continue to hope that the Senate passes a ban on cloning which could be helpful in this matter." Wendy Wright, senior policy director with the Concerned Women for America, said the law promotes "the idea that you can use human life for experimentation that ultimately causes death." "It's disturbing because it's a fundamental disregard for human life," she said.
Although any federal legislation prohibiting embryonic stem cell research or human cloning would "trump" the California law, proponents of the state law have said that they would likely take the matter to court in the event that Congress passed a federal ban. "The law is a classic example of putting profits and politics ahead of principle," said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council.
The House in July 2001 passed a pro-life bill banning human cloning, and the Senate is considering two bills that would limit the practice, one pro-life and another allowing the destructive research cloning. The pro-life bill (S 1899), sponsored by pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), would ban all forms of human cloning. Several states, including Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota, have passed legislation to ban embryo research or cloning within their borders.

Human Cloning: On the Backs of Women
by Gail Quinn
[Pro-Life Infonet Note: Gail Quinn is Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.]
We hear repeatedly that scientists must be allowed to clone and conduct harmful experiments on human embryos. Unless such research is allowed, it is said, cures for many deadly diseases will never be found. This message seems to come from every corner–from Senator Ted Kennedy, actor Christopher Reeve and even Nobel laureates. Forget the moment that these claims are simply wrong. Not one therapeutic benefit has come from such research; every beneficial result has come from morally acceptable adult stem cell research. Leave aside too the serious moral and ethical problems. Instead, focus on another aspect –the fact that cloning would exploit women on a massive scale.
It is estimated that 133.9 million Americans suffer from diseases some claim may be helped by cloning. If just 10 percent were eligible for therapies derived from human cloning, the potential patient pool would 13.4 million people. To provide genetically matched material to treat such numbers, one would need at least 670 million eggs to clone. Where would the eggs come from? Well, if each female donor provided 10 eggs, 67 million women donors would be needed. Each would be subjected to high levels of hormonal stimulation, followed by laproscopic surgery. Senator Mary Landreiu (D-LA) put it rather succinctly: women would simply become egg factories.
Women also bear the burden regarding family planning. Many American women take birth control pills or other forms of hormonal contraceptives, or they undergo sterilization, a permanent and terrible choice (men eschew vasectomy). Yet, Natural Family Planning, a completely healthy alternative involving the cooperative effort of husband and wife, is often dismissed out of hand. The message? Let women take the risks.
When an unintended pregnancy occurs, the solution: Leave the woman to bear and raise the child alone, or let her subject herself to the abortionist's curette, and if she's lucky, she'll come away physically intact. If she suffers emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, the message: "Get over it." Partial-birth abortion (where a child is partially delivered, then killed before being completely born), poses serious risks to a woman. She risks injury and hemorrhaging when the child's skull is pierced by a sharp instrument while lodged in the birth canal. She faces substantial risks of future infertility, including an inability to carry a baby to term. Knowing of such concerns, Congress and a majority of states passed laws to ban the practice. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that partial-birth abortion must be permitted to serve a woman's health. As if something that poses terrible health risks for a woman could ever be required to preserve her health. Again, the risks and the ordeal are placed on the backs of women.
Women deserve much better. Wouldn't it be terrific if women banded together to say: "We are not research subjects. We are not egg factories. We are human beings deserving of respect and dignity. We expect to be treated that way."

Poll: Americans Opposed to Cloning

Washington, DC -- A new poll from Johns Hopkins University shows that 76 percent of Americans are against scientific efforts to clone humans -- and they are especially fearful of the moral implications. Though the survey shows Americans are hopeful when it comes to some of the new genetic technologies out there, they draw the line at cloning humans, according to Mary Cannon, with the Stop Human Cloning Project. "It reinforces what we've already known -- that the American people are strongly opposed to human cloning...and to any effort that undermines human dignity," Cannon said.
The poll shows that one of the biggest fears people have when it comes to cloning is that it would be too similar to "playing God." Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins, said the research showed a direct tie to faith. "Those individuals who view these technologies through a moral or religious lens held their views much more strongly and were much more likely to be cautious or unenthusiastic about these applications," Hudson said. This latest information will be another paper in a stack of evidence suggesting Americans believe cloning is wrong. "Our elected officials pay a great deal of attention to public opinion," Cannon said. Cannon is hopeful lawmakers in Washington will act on reports like this. "I think all those things help us to make the case on Capitol Hill that we need to pass legislation to stop those things before they start," Cannon said.
Researchers say they hope the poll will spark a healthy dialogue on the topic of cloning and that in the end, average Americans will have the final say on what the next scientific step will be. The poll also finds that among those who approve of human cloning, there's a clear difference between men and women -- 26 percent of men favor cloning and only 11 percent of women approve of it. Scientists overseas are trying to create cloned humans right now and some are expected to be born in the next few months.
Johns Hopkins has produced a news release detailing the survey's findings. To read it, please visit their Website:

Jailed Man's Adult Stem Cells Save Brother's Life
Source: Associated Press; January 5, 2003
Hartford, CT -- Two months after being sent to Virginia to finish serving an 11-year prison sentence for burglary, John "J.T." Glasper returned to Connecticut to save his brother's life. Joseph Glasper, 20, needed a stem cell transplant to fight a rare and deadly form of a blood disease called aplastic anemia. His bone marrow had stopped making enough blood cells, compromising his immune system to the point where he would die within a day if he caught an infection. John, 22, was Joseph's only match. "He definitely wanted to do this," said Pat Ottolini, acting director of health services for the state Department of Correction, which had transferred John to Virginia in October to ease prison overcrowding. "He did this because it was his brother."
The brothers were close growing up in East Hartford, Joseph said, but then John was arrested, and he hadn't seen him outside court in three years. Joseph, meanwhile, had joined the Army, but earlier this year he began feeling weak. While home on leave, he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. On Christmas Eve, the brothers were reunited when prison guards brought John to Yale-New Haven Hospital in shackles to meet with doctors. "I just cried for a long time," Joseph said. "I told him I loved him and I missed him. He said, 'I would do anything to save your life.'"
After the meeting, John was returned to the Connecticut prison, and doctors gave him injections of a drug that triggers the production of stem cells. The transplant took place Thursday. On Sunday, Joseph was in fair condition and had been awake and talking. He must remain hospitalized for several weeks while the stem cells reconstruct his immune system, and even after he leaves, he will have to guard against infections, including wearing a mask outside. Once he is able to travel again, Joseph, who is on Army disability leave, said he will visit his brother in prison. "I think about him all the time," he said. "It's really hard - he's my only brother. No one can replace me and J.T."

Alledged Human Clone May Never Have DNA Test
Source: MSNBC; January 3, 2003
New York, NY -- The head of a company that last week announced it had created the first human clone said Thursday that DNA tests have not yet been conducted on the baby -- and may never be. The statement by Clonaid CEO Brigitte Boisselier added to scientists' skepticism and fueled suspicions that the company's claim was a hoax. Boisselier announced last Friday that Clonaid scientists had produced a healthy 7-pound girl who is a genetic copy of her mother. So far, Clonaid, a company linked to a religious sect that believes space aliens created life on Earth, has offered no scientific proof, provided no photographs and has not produced the child or the mother.
Boisselier had initially said DNA tests on the child would be conducted last week under the supervision of a panel of independent experts chosen by a former ABC News science editor, Michael Guillen. But on Thursday, she told French television there were no longer plans to conduct the tests and that it would be up to the child's parents to decide if any would be performed in the future. Guillen was not available for comment. In addition, Bosselier said that a second cloned baby would be born somewhere in Europe in the next few days. But as with the first claim, she would not give any more information. Boisselier previously said the mother of the child reportedly born last Thursday is American but has offered no further details. Neither she nor Clonaid spokeswoman Nadine Gary would say where in the United States the mother is from, where the child was born or what U.S. city they were in.
Clonaid's claim was met with doubt by the scientific community and revulsion by many ethicists. Many oppose cloning to produce humans, saying it's too risky because of abnormalities seen in cloned animals. Among the possible problems are premature aging and various maladies. So far, scientists have succeeded in cloning sheep, mice, cows, pigs, goats and cats. The United States has no specific law against human cloning. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates human experiments, says its regulations forbid human cloning without prior agency permission, and has launched an investigation into whether Clonaid illegally performed any work in the country. Several countries have already banned human cloning, including Germany and Britain. Sweden is drafting legislation that would ban reproductive cloning but allow "therapeutic" cloning for stem cell research.
Clonaid was founded by Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist and leader of a sect called the Raelians. Vorilhon, who calls himself Rael, claims a space alien visited him and revealed that extraterrestrials had created all life on Earth through genetic engineering. Vorilhon claimed Clonaid has a list of 2,000 people willing to pay $200,000 to have themselves or a loved one cloned, the Miami Herald reported. In an online poll conducted by MSNBC, 65% of the nearly 43,000 respondents said they thought the claim that a baby had been cloned was "absurd" while only 35% believed the claim was likely to be true.

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