Vatican Appeals at U.N. for Prohibition of All Human Cloning

Key Committee Then Backs a Global Ban

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NEW YORK, NOV. 20, 2001 ( The Vatican on Monday appealed to the United Nations for the prohibition of all human cloning. A key U.N. panel later backed a resolution calling for a global treaty to ban human cloning.

The spokesman for the Vatican proposal was Archbishop Renato Martino, the Holy See´s permanent observer at the United Nations, who addressed the 6th Committee on the International Convention Against Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings.

This U.N. debate was proposed last August by France and Germany, which requested the prohibition of this practice.

Addressing the committee, Archbishop Martino said: «Those born as a result of cloning would begin life as an anomaly in terms of the relationship with parents and relatives through an act of predetermination, which is at the same time deliberate and arbitrary in relation to their corporeity.»

«The ethical and juridical consequences that will arise from this act would contaminate and desecrate the future of humankind,» the archbishop said.

«This opposition, by the Holy See, and the reason for this discussion, is not derived only from the risks of malformation or the death of the embryo, as a result of predictable failures, but first and foremost upon anthropological and ethical reasons,» he stated.

«In fact, this discussion is based upon the generation of a child outside the act of personal love,» Archbishop Martino explained. «Such an act excludes paternity and maternity, and is an asexual and agamic conception, thus resulting in a lack of union between the person and the gametes.»

The Vatican representative not only expressed opposition to reproductive cloning but also against erroneously so-called therapeutic cloning, namely, «the production of human embryos as suppliers of specialized stem cells, embryos used in the treatment of certain illnesses and then destroyed.»

«This exploitation of human beings, sought by certain scientific and industrial circles, and pushed forward by underlying economic interests, retains all its ethical repugnance as an even more serious offense against human dignity and the right to life, since it involves human beings — embryos — who are created in order to be destroyed,» the Vatican aide clarified.

«Moreover, the cloning of human embryos has been declared unnecessary, on a scientific level, since those same stem cells can be obtained by other, acceptable means,» the archbishop concluded.

Archbishop Martino backed his proposals by quoting two fundamental documents published in 1997: UNESCO´s «Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights,» and the Pontifical Academy for Life´s «Reflections on Cloning.»

The French and German proposal to prohibit reproductive cloning was supported on Monday by the General Assembly´s Legal Committee.

Under the draft resolution, a group would meet next year to define what should be negotiated in an international convention to ban the practice.

Approval by the 189 nations in the General Assembly is virtually certain, the Associated Press reported.

The draft resolution says that «the rapid development of life sciences opens up tremendous prospects for the improvement of human health.»

However, it would put the General Assembly on record as saying it is «determined to prevent an attack on the dignity of the individual.»

Christian Much, legal adviser to the German U.N. Mission, welcomed the endorsement, but said a final treaty might still be three years away.

«On an ethical level, Christianity and Islam and all religions think that cloning would be an intrusion in God´s power to create a life,» he said.

Cloning involves the nucleus of an egg being mechanically replaced by the nucleus from a different cell. The reconstructed egg is then charged with electricity or submerged in chemicals to stimulate cell division and growth into an embryo. The resultant human life is genetically identical to the person from whom the cell was extracted.

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