In Germany, Cloning Faces a Broad Range of Opposition

Berlin Conference to Discuss a Total Ban

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BERLIN, JAN. 19, 2003 ( German political, medical and ecclesial figures are lining up to voice their opposition to cloning, even as the government announced an international conference to discuss a ban on the procedure.

The conference will be held in Berlin next May. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opposes cloning for reproductive purposes but favors it for so-called therapeutic ends.

Opposition to any use of cloning, meanwhile, is leading to the establishment of an unheard-of coalition among Christian parties and the Greens. The latter are allied to SPD in the government.

Last week the German Medical Association pronounced itself on the issue in a statement which read: «We support the efforts of the federal government toward an international prohibition of cloning.»

Dr. Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe, president of the physicians association, said: «The obtaining, only as a preliminary step, of the prohibition of cloning for reproductive ends at the level of the United Nations would certainly be a secondary solution, but, nevertheless, would constitute considerable progress with respect to the status quo.»

«However, we continue to be in favor of a complete prohibition of cloning that will include so-called cloning for therapeutic ends,» in line with «the intentions of the German law that protects the embryo,» he specified.

German churches and denominations in general have also declared themselves against cloning.

«Cloning, both for reproductive as well as therapeutic ends, must be prohibited,» said Catholic Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

Bishop Fürst is a member of the National Ethics Council, which must pronounce itself on the question of cloning and of pre-implantation diagnosis. He explained: «Both procedures are identical in the method of treatment of the embryo.»

«Cloning for therapeutic ends has nothing to do with therapy,» he stressed. Rather, it is «effected for research purposes.»

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