- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT), a biotech firm based in Worcester, Mass., announced on Sunday what they anticipated would be good news: They had successfully cloned the first human embryo. Their intention, they said, is to make "lifesaving therapies" for such common illnesses as diabetes and cancer. Their immoral means, however, do not justify their intended ends.
What ACT did might seem to be quite innocent. But it is not. What ACT did was transfer human DNA into a woman's donated egg and then artificially nurture the egg into a six-cell embryo. "The egg began dividing as if it had been fertilized by a sperm," Joyce Price wrote in this newspaper yesterday. "But its development was stopped long before it became a baby … it was still a ball of cells."
Let's see. Human DNA plus artificial-nurturing equals human cloning. Blessedly, the ACT scientists stopped themselves at the early stage of this experiment. For morally sound reasons, though, ACT's research has drawn sharp criticisms from all quarters. The Vatican expressed caution and reservation, explaining that if one "real human embryo [were] created and then destroyed" to obtain stem cells, "then that is true human cloning and [it] must be condemned." The National Right to Life Committee, meanwhile, warned of "human embryo farms" and urged Congress to act quickly. The White House emphasized that President Bush is "100 percent" opposed to any method of human cloning.
Now, Michael West of ACT thinks the pope, the president and many folks in between are on the wrong page. "Scientifically, biologically, the entities we are creating are not an individual. They're only cellular life. They're not human life," said Mr. West. Of course, it's in his best interests that you try to comprehend that distinction. After all, he is a not merely a biologist, but president of ACT itself. Those are the distinctions the Senate including Democrat Richard Durbin of Illinois and Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana must keep in mind when pondering congressional action.
Indeed, no one wants to watch a parent wither away from Alzheimer's or any other debilitating illnesses. In that sense, breakthrough research is truly anticipated as big news. But, artificially nurturing a woman's egg which is a gift from God into an embryo without benefit of fertilization by a male's sperm is, nonetheless, human cloning and should be condemned as such.


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