Crossing the Nuremberg Line by William L. Saunders

Crossing the Nuremberg Line

William L. Saunders on Cloning & Human Dignity

On February 13, the principal author of the new report on cloning from the National Academy of Science (NAS) told the President’s Bioethics Advisory Council that it was impermissible (at least at the moment) to proceed with what he called “reproductive cloning,” i.e., cloning that brings the clone to birth, but that it was okay to proceed with “therapeutic cloning,” i.e., cloning that kills the clone by experimenting on it. By what standard did Professor Irving L. Weissman and his NAS colleagues judge reproductive cloning to be impermissible and the other kind okay?

Reproductive cloning, they maintained, was simply too dangerous—at present. The risk to the cloned subject was too great. The actual cloning process is difficult to manage: Most clones in animal trials are defective, or indeed die. Ian Wilmot, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, says that only one to five percent of embryos eventually result in the live birth of animals, and those that are born are plagued with obesity, lung and kidney problems, immune system failure, and so on.

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William L. Saunders is Senior Vice President and Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life.

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