Ban Stand

With Daniel Callahan, The New Republic, August 6, 2001.


Everyone has been arguing for weeks about whether President Bush should authorize funding for research on human embryonic stem cells. But few have noticed the much more momentous decision now before us: whether to permit the cloning of human beings. At issue in the first debate is the morality of using and destroying human embryos. At issue in the second is the morality of designing human children.

The day of human cloning is near. Reputable physicians have announced plans to produce a cloned child within the year. One biotech company (Advanced Cell Technology) just announced its intention to start producing embryonic human clones for research purposes. Recognizing the urgent need for action, Congress is considering legislation that would ban human cloning. Last Tuesday the House Judiciary Committee approved a tough anti-cloning bill, H.R. 2505, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001.

Introduced by Republican Dave Weldon of Florida and Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, and co-sponsored by more than 120 members from both parties, the bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floor as early as this week. But the House is also considering a much weaker “compromise” bill that would ban reproductive cloning but permit cloning for research. It is terribly important that the former, and not the latter, passes. First, because cloning is unethical, both in itself and in what it surely leads to. Second, because the Weldon-Stupak bill offers our best–indeed, our only–hope of preventing it from happening.