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HUMAN THERAPEUTIC CLONING:

Developments during the year 2002

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Sponsored link.

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Note:

The following news items relate to therapeutic cloning: the creation of pre-embryos in order to extract their stem cells and create a human organ. They are unrelated to reproductive cloning: the creation of a newborn who is an exact duplication of an existing person.

See another essay for U.S. legislative information at the Federal and State levels.

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Cloning news items during 2002:

bullet2002-JAN-7: USA: Senate debates penalty for cloning: The House has passed a bill which would levy a ten year jail sentence and 1 million dollar fine for anyone who clones a human embryo. This sentence would apparently apply to anyone engaged in therapeutic cloning (producing an embryo with human DNA, even though it is not allowed to grow beyond the embryo state) or adult DNA cloning (producing an embryo with human DNA in an attempt to produce a newborn baby). Some scientists point out that a ban on adult DNA cloning is not needed because no researcher would be sufficiently unethical to try the procedure. They point out that a ban on therapeutic cloning would cause a major brain-drain as researchers went to countries like Britain which allow limited embryo cloning. In fact, one of the leading researchers, Roger Pederson has already moved to Britain. Thus, the argument in the Senate is not about whether therapeutic cloning will be done, but rather where in the world the research will happen. Senator Sam Brownback, (R-KS) said: "We must ban all human cloning. This is an important issue because of the vast historical consequence, and also because it focuses attention on the meaning of life and whether or not we will, as a society, allow life to be created and destroyed at our whim."  The Washington times describes the debate as follows:
bulletEmbryos die when their stem cells are removed. Politicians, religious leaders, pro-life advocates and some ethicists thus argue that human stem-cell research is akin to murder.
bulletScientists for the most part believe that embryos are less than human beings or persons. They consider them living organisms with the potential to become human. As such, they say, it's morally appropriate to sacrifice early-stage embryos in the service of good causes, such as curing Alzeheimer's [sic] or heart disease.

Their description is somewhat simplified, because not all politicians or religious leaders oppose therapeutic cloning. 1

bullet2002-JAN-29: USA: Company creates kidney-like organ via therapeutic cloning: Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, MA have proven the principle of therapeutic cloning. They took a cell from a cow's ear, inserted its DNA into a cow ovum which had its DNA removed, grew stem cells, extracted the cells, and produced a number of kidney-like cow organs. When implanted into the original cow, they were not rejected. They started to function like ordinary kidneys and produced urine. The impact of this development on humans suffering from kidney disease is immense. If the technology will work on humans, it would dramatically reduce the need for donor kidneys and transplants; fewer people would die; persons suffering from kidney disease would lead much improved lives. This development comes at a critical time, politically. The House has passed a bill that would criminalize both reproductive cloning (the production of cloned babies) and therapeutic cloning (the production of cloned organs). The Senate is debating one bill that would ban reproductive cloning but permit therapeutic cloning. Another bill would ban both forms of cloning. 2
bullet2002-MAR: USA: Orthodox Jews support therapeutic cloning: The Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the largest conservative Jewish group in the U.S., has decided to support therapeutic cloning, and oppose reproductive cloning. They wrote: "We must be careful to distinguish between cloning for therapeutic purposes -- which ought to be pursued, and cloning for reproductive purposes -- which we oppose.3 This item came from CovenantNews.com, a Fundamentalist Christian news source. They summarized the news item in a heading: "Quislings Back Therapeutic Cloning." The word "Quisling" comes from a Norwegian politician who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. The word currently means traitor or collaborator.
bullet2002-JUN-2: MA: Cloned cow tissue successfully transplanted: According to USA Today, "Researchers have successfully implanted cloned kidney tissue into a cow, an advance they say shows that cloned organs won't be rejected by patients' immune systems. Led by Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., the researchers used kidney cells from a 56-day-old cloned cow fetus to make working kidney implants." This result was expected, because the implanted tissue had DNA that was identical to the cow's DNA. 9
bullet2002-JUN-12: Belgium: Government approves therapeutic cloning: We were u
bullet2002-JUN-30: USA: NRLC expands mandate: The National Right to Life Committee was organized in 1972 to restrict or eliminate abortion access.  They decided at their Pittsburgh PA convention, (held JUN-27 to 29), to expand their mandate to include seeking bans on human embryo stem-cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and human reproductive cloning. 4
bullet2002-JUL-9: Bioethics Panel issues recommendation: The President's Council on Bioethics has issued cloning recommendations. They recommend:
bulletA total and permanent ban on reproductive cloning.
bulletA four year moratorium on therapeutic cloning.

The report said that "The council, reflecting the differences of opinion in American society, is divided regarding the ethics of research involving cloned embryos.'' Of the 18 members on the panel, ten favored a moratorium on therapeutic cloning, seven wanted research to continue, under strict regulations. One member effectively abstained. 5

bulletWeek of 2002-AUG-11: USA: American Bar Association to vote on cloning: The ABA held its annual meeting in Washington DC. They represent 408,000 lawyers. A resolution to approve therapeutic cloning was approved. 6 The Scientist Magazine reported that the ABA's policy making body, the "House of Delegates will vote this week on the proposed policy, which endorses therapeutic but not reproductive cloning." Policy author Robyn Shapiro, director of the Center for the Study of Bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin said: "We must be careful to distinguish between cloning for therapeutic purposes, which should be pursued, and cloning for reproductive purposes, which the ABA opposes." 7 Shapiro later stated that: "Members overwhelmingly agreed with the policy. This outcome shows that there is a growing support throughout the nation for this position." Their policy states, in part: "Governmental action that would ban all forms of cloning, and thereby foreclose all potential avenues of medical advancement offered by therapeutic cloning, poses a direct and serious threat to freedom of scientific inquiry." 8

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References:

  1. August Gribbin, "Senate to debate cloning penalties," Washington Times, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
  2. Rick Weiss, "Scientists Claim an Advance in Therapeutic Cloning: Mass. Firm Uses Embryonic Cow Cells to Create Kidney-Like Organs; Transplant Success Reported," Washington Post at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  3. "Orthodox Jews Take Liberal Path on the Facts of Life," Family Research Council, Washington Update newsletter, 2002-MAR-13.
  4. Jim Rudd, "National Right to Life's Deception," at: http://covenantnews.com/
  5. Stuart Shepard, "Federally funded research prompts questions," Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, 2002-JUL-11
  6. David Brody, "ABA Poised to Endorse Cloning," Family News in Focus, 2002-AUG-13, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/
  7. Diane Martindale, "US lawyers mull cloning: American Bar Association to decide this week whether to sanction therapeutic cloning," The Scientist, 2002-AUG-13, at: http://www.biomedcentral.com
  8. Diane Martindale, "Lawyers oppose ban on cloning: American Bar Association votes to oppose government ban on therapeutic cloning," The Scientist, 2002-AUG-19, at: http://www.biomedcentral.com
  9. Dan Vergano, "Cloned cow tissue passes anti-rejection test," USA TODAY, 2002-JUN-2, at: http://www.usatoday.com/

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Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1997-AUG-5
Last updated 2004-FEB-1
6
Author: Bruce A Robinson

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