- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

President Bush made the case for banning human cloning on Wednesday. Because cloning has become a reality with important implications for society, it demands political attention. The president's tendency to see issues in clear moral terms is superbly suited to a topic such as human cloning. "The most fundamental principle of medical ethics [is] that no human life should be exploited or extinguished for the benefit of another," Mr. Bush said. No person credibly can deny that at issue are human lives in their nascent stage, which, if allowed to grow, will become babies and then adults. Playing word games for example, labeling stage-one embryos "primitive clusters of cells" without human value, as the New York Times is wont to do serves to cloud the truth, which makes denying it easier.
The address aimed to pressure the Senate into adopting an anti-cloning bill proposed by Sens. Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has been delaying a vote on the measure. Perhaps he is worried the bill will pass (as did a similar one in the House with broad bipartisan support) and anger the potential presidential nominee's liberal allies.
Mr. Bush addressed cloning based on religious, ethical and practical angles. The clincher, however, may be his appeal to those senators about thirty, mostly Democrats who have not taken a position on cloning. "Nearly every American" agrees that human cloning for reproduction and the creation of replacement body parts should be banned, Mr. Bush reminded them. Polls may be the only way to awaken the fence-sitters' consciences. Some scientists wish to play God by cloning embryos and then destroying them with the goal of using embryonic stem-cell tissues to cure diseases. Mr. Bush rightly pointed out that the benefits of such research are "highly speculative." And there is evidence that stem cells can be extracted from mature human beings for the same purpose. These were two of the practical concerns Mr. Bush raised.
But,basically the issue boils down to life and death. Is it justifiable to destroy life, however early, for a good cause? Mr. Bush suggests the answer is no, because "life is a creation, not a commodity" to be junked for spare parts that may not even work. And, even if those parts were to work wonders, an evil means will have been used to justify a good end. Just ask Andrew Sullivan, a prominent journalist who has HIV but rejects the crass utilitarian ethos for cloning. "If my life were extended one day at the expense of one other human's life itself, it would be an evil beyond measure," he has written. "Some things cannot be simply bargained or rationalized away. And one of those things is surely life itself."

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