Cardinal Bevilacqua Urges Approval of Human Cloning Prohibition Act

Urges U.S. Congress to Reject Alternative Measure

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 26, 2003 ( Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua urged Congress to approve the Human Cloning Prohibition Act and to reject «deceptive substitute measures.»

The case for the legislation is even stronger today than when the House overwhelmingly approved it in July 2001, said the cardinal, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

In his letter to congressmen, he cited what he called the «growing national and international consensus that human cloning has no place in our society.»

Cardinal Bevilacqua said the past two years have shown how exaggerated were the claims of supporters of human cloning for biomedical research.

«Embryonic stem cell research in general has encountered numerous practical and scientific obstacles, including difficulties in culturing these stem cells and the cells’ own tendency to form lethal tumors when transferred into animals,» he wrote in the letter dated Tuesday. The U.S. bishops’ Web site carried news of the letter.

«Medical research is developing new and promising treatments for Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses, but these are from adult stem cell research and other approaches that pose no moral problem,» said the cardinal archbishop of Philadelphia.

«While the practical case against all human cloning has become stronger, the basic moral issue has not changed,» the cardinal continued.

«Cloning dehumanizes human procreation, treating new human life as a mere laboratory product made to specifications,» he wrote. «Whether used to bring cloned human embryos to live birth (so-called reproductive cloning), or to exploit them as sources of ‘spare parts’ for other humans (so-called therapeutic cloning), human cloning diminishes us all.

«The allegedly lofty goals proposed for human cloning cannot outweigh the grim reality of the activity itself.»

The bill to prohibit all cloning was sponsored by Representatives Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican, and Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat.

Cardinal Bevilacqua said that another bill, offered by Representative James Greenwood, a Pennsylvania Republican, as an alternative to the Weldon/Stupak ban, does not address the moral problem of cloning.

«Misnamed a ‘cloning prohibition act,’ it would directly involve the federal government in registering for-profit human cloning laboratories and supervising their manufacture of human beings as research material,» wrote Cardinal Bevilacqua.

«By assigning this task to the Food and Drug Administration, Congress would treat the cloned human embryo as a marketable ‘biological product,’ to be exploited for benefit to others and tested for its safety and effectiveness,» the cardinal warned. «Congress would define a class of human beings whose only status is as a commodity.»

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