Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry

The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC, July 2002.


Man’s biotechnological powers are expanding in scope, at what seems an accelerating pace. Many of these powers are double-edged, offering help for human suffering, yet threatening harm to human dignity. Human cloning, we are confident, is but a foretaste—the herald of many dazzling genetic and reproductive technologies that will raise profound moral questions well into the future. It is crucial that we try to understand its full human significance.

We have tried to conduct our inquiry into human cloning unblinkered, with our eyes open not only to the benefits of the new biotechnologies but also to their challenges—moral, social, and political. We have not suppressed differences but sought rather to illuminate them, that all might better appreciate what is at stake. We have eschewed a thin utilitarian calculus of costs and benefits, or a narrow analysis based only on individual “rights.” Rather, we have tried to ground our reflections on the broader plane of human procreation and human healing, with their deeper meanings. Seen in this way, we find that the power to clone human beings is not just another in a series of powerful tools for overcoming unwanted infertility or treating disease. Rather, cloning represents a turning point in human history—the crossing of an important line separating sexual from asexual procreation and the first step toward genetic control over the next generation. It thus carries with it a number of troubling consequences for children, family, and society.

Table of Contents:
Letter of Transmittal to the President
Members of the President’s Council on Bioethics
Council Staff and Consultants
Executive Summary
Chapter One: The Meaning of Human Cloning: An Overview
Chapter Two: Historical Aspects of Cloning
Chapter Three: On Terminology
Chapter Four: Scientific Background
Chapter Five: The Ethics of Cloning-to-Produce-Children
Chapter Six: The Ethics of Cloning-for-Biomedical-Research
Chapter Seven: Public Policy Options
Chapter Eight: Policy Recommendations
Glossary of Terms
Appendix: Personal Statements