Doctor Bent on Human Cloning Opposes Vatican

Could Be Suspended by Roman Medical Association

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ROME, MAR. 23, 2001 ( An Italian doctor, determined to clone a human being, defended his plans before a medical council, and leveled harsh accusations against the Vatican.

Severino Antinori, who has announced his plan to clone the first human being in history, was grilled Thursday by the Medical Association of Rome. The organization in the past has condemned Antinori´s practice of artificial insemination, carried out in disregard of bioethical standards. The medical association might consider suspending the doctor.

On March 14, the Italian Senate voted 385-3 to approve the Oviedo convention on bioethics, and the protocol in an appendix, which prohibits the cloning of human beings. The European Council´s member states signed the treaty on April 4, 1997, and the additional protocol on Jan. 12, 1998.

Antinori is looking for a country where he will be able to carry out his «experiment.» His team has said that it is ready to work on the first clone of a human being in the coming weeks.

On Thursday, Antinori rejected the many criticisms of his project made by doctors, scientists and bioethics experts, and reserved his harshest words for the Vatican, which says cloning offends human dignity.

«It seems we have returned to the old times of the Inquisition,» Antinori said. «We are working so that humanity will help man, not to create something negative.»

Panos Zavos, an American fertility specialist who hopes to work with Antinori, said that 700 couples have already come forward, requesting the cloning of a child.

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