Magazine article Science News

Clinton Calls for Ban on Human Cloning

Magazine article Science News

Clinton Calls for Ban on Human Cloning

Article excerpt

A federal bioethics panel wants Congress to ban attempts to create a human being by cloning, but the group stops short of prohibiting research on cloned human embryos. President Clinton sent legislation embodying these recommendations to Congress this week.

The President asked the National Bioethics Advisory Commission--18 medical, legal, and ethics experts--to review the prospect of human cloning after Scottish researchers created a lamb from a cell of an adult sheep (SN: 3/1/97, p. 132). The panel now concludes that it would be "morally unacceptable for anyone in the public or private sector ... to attempt to create a child" by implanting cloned embryos in a woman.

Although no federal money can be used to support research on human cloning, no specific U.S. law forbids it. "A motivated person and technician could collaborate at an infertility clinic to do this," says Alta Charo, a panel member from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Moreover, the cloning technique used by the Scots would pose great risks to humans, the panel says. Before successfully cloning a lamb, the researchers failed 277 times, producing many abnormal and stillborn animals, Charo says.

The cloning debate pits some fertility clinics, which want cloning explored to open possible options for infertile couples, against abortion foes, who believe that life starts at conception and want to stop all cloning work with human embryos.

Most biotechnology research that might use cloning focuses on animals and thus falls outside this debate. …

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