United States: Intervention of the Holy See at the UN against cloning

Source: FSSPX News


The Holy See says it’s convinced of the necessity of an “international juridical instrument which will forbid the cloning of the human embryo”, declared the permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN, Bishop Celestino Migliore, during the 6th Commission of the UN gathered on October 21, 2004. The Holy See is favorable to scientific research and recognizes that the transplantation of adult stem-cells, which poses “no ethical problems”, has saved “millions of lives”. It opposes, however, the cloning of the embryo, considered by some as a “potential source of stem-cells.

The UN has approved the principle of the ban on cloning human beings for reproductive reasons, but the plan for an international convention on this subject has been stopped by a clause which permits cloning for therapeutic reasons. Two plans against the cloning of human beings for reproduction were proposed on October 21 before the General Assembly of the UN. The first by the representative of Costa Rica, supported by 56 other member states, including the US which wanted a total ban on cloning, the second by the representative of Belgium, defended by 21 member-states, including France and the UK – this second text containing the desire expressed by certain delegations to “preserve the possibility of research by experimental cloning” while supporting the fundamental ban on reproductive cloning by a resolution of the Assembly General of the UN.

According to Bp Migliore, “it has clearly appeared since the beginning that despite its name, the objective of “the international convention against reproductive cloning of human beings” is to find a juridical structure which would permit and accelerate the advance of medical science through obtaining and using stem cells”. As for the Holy See, the cloning of embryos to obtain a “source of stem cells”, or therapeutic cloning, “remains problematic”, as much on the scientific as on the ethical level.

On the scientific level, the Vatican diplomat to the UN recalled that “the cloning of embryos was at this point far from procuring the progress invoked by its supporters.” “A clinical success from the use of cloned embryonic stem cells remains to be seen, even at the level of animal experimentation”, he added. “The work which will validate an experiment of this kind on humans could take a very long time, and these obstacles might never be overcome”. On the other hand, “therapeutic progress obtained thanks to adult stem cells – cells from the bone marrow, the blood or the umbilical cord or other forms of tissue – are promising.

On the ethical level, Bp Migliore evoked the difficult distinction between “reproductive cloning” and “therapeutic cloning”, a distinction he called “illusory”. “Both use the same technical means and only differ in their goal”, explained the prelate. For him, “the two forms of cloning imply a lack of respect for the dignity of human life”. The cloning known as “therapeutic” “seems truly incompatible with the respect of the dignity of the human being”, for, in creating embryos “with the intention of destroying them”, even if it is done with the intention of “being able to eventually help the seriously ill in the future”, it makes of human life “an instrument at the service of another”.

“The choice is not between science and ethics, but between a science which is ethically responsible and a science which is not”, Bp Migliore affirmed. “The danger is that progress in the care”, shown by the transplantation of adult stem cells, “would be stopped or slowed by a turning of attention and resources toward cloning human beings, considered as a potential source of cells”.