Human cloning and destructive human embryo research are the most recent forms of human experimentation. Months after the cloner of Dolly the Sheep abandonned his U.K. license to clone human embryos based on the ethical “skin cell method” of creating embryonic-like stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cell research), a California-based lab has claimed to have cloned human embryos. Learn the facts, and contact us for BDF legislation that prohibits state funding and/or the practice of human embryo cloning for both destructive research or for childbirth.
Troubling Developments in Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Scientists have created human embryos for the first time via human cloning. As explained by BDF science advisor Dr. ML Condic:
A paper published in Cell reports the cloning of human embryos from human fetal skin cells. The paper used 380 human eggs from at least 10 paid women donors. In total, 68 cloned human embryos survived to the blastocyst stage of development. These 7-day old embryos were subsequently destroyed to produce a total of 18 cloned human stem cell lines. In the four experimental series reported, producing a single cloned stem cell line required 14 eggs on average (i.e. efficiency of approximately 7.4%). The authors report that the best quality eggs for cloning were derived from women producing less than 10 eggs per cycle of ovarian hyperstimulation, indicating that the number of woman donors and/or the number of donation cycles would have to be high in order to optimize egg quality for human cloning.
Wesley J. Smith, a friend and colleague of BDF offers a short but well-worded statement as well.
And Notre Dame law professor and former counsel to the Kass Commission, Carter Snead told the Notre Dame News, “The use and destruction of living human beings — at any stage of biological development — for scientific research is a terrible injustice. Human cloning for biomedical research is a particularly aggravated form of this harm.”
Human Cloning Laws: 50 State Survey by BDF
- embryonic stem cell research,
- implantation for childbirth, and
- related funding policies
Click here to see BDF’s Statement on the Breakthrough Direct Reprogramming Studies that make it a reality to create human patient-specific stem cells without embryos or eggs.
January 2012: A comprehensive report by the Witherspoon Council examines the embryonic stem cell debates in hopes of better understanding the relationship between science and politics.
Resource: Learn about Human-Animal hybrids and the need for state and federal legislation. BDF model laws are in effect in Arizona, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Resource: Review a Q&A resource by BDF Science Advisor Dr. Maureen Condic, “Direct Reprogramming: Do we still need embryos and cloning?”
BDF opinion pieces on human cloning, egg harvesting and the funding of human embryo destruction:
Meet the Cloners
Posted in NRO Articles on Monday Nov 6, 2006
Brave New Future
Posted in NRO Articles on Wednesday Nov 21, 2007
Posted in NRO Articles on Monday May 23, 2005
California lab claims to have cloned human embryos
Statement of Bioethics Defense Fund
January 17, 2008. NBC chief scientific correspondent Robert Bazell, in this MSNBC video news story, reports that if a California’s lab’s claims are true, “it is the first instance of cloning humans – only as embryos in a Petri dish, but still cloned human beings.”
The MSNBC report features Dr. Samuel Wood of Stemagen Corp. in La Jolla, California explaining that “it was an amazing experience to look at that blastocyst and realize that it came from one of my cells. It’s a bit like looking at yourself from a long time ago.”
Bazell reports on bioethicist Art Caplan’s comments that regardless of this company’s intentions to create the cloned embryos only for embryonic stem cells, “there is nothing to stop someone else from trying to make a baby this way.” Although the cloned embryos were destroyed, the lab has not been successful in culturing the clone’s embryonic stem cells.
Bioethics Defense Fund President Nikolas T. Nikas commented that this news highlights the necessity of state and federal legislation banning the creation of cloned human embryos for any purpose.
“If true, the creation of human beings at the embryonic stage of life by cloning marks a new and decisive step toward turning human reproduction into a manufacturing process. The creation of human embryos for the purpose of exploitation as raw material for lab experiments is grossly immoral and a blatant violation of human dignity,” said Nikas.
Dorinda C. Bordlee, BDF senior counsel, stated that this announcement “puts young women’s reproductive health at risk because it will increase the demand for labs to treat women as egg farms by paying them to undergo dangerous hormone treatments so that the lab can harvest 10-20 human eggs per cycle for their cloning experiments.”
For model legislation to ban human cloning and human egg harvesting, contact Bioethics Defense Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bioethics Defense Fund is a public-interest legal organization whose mission includes advocating for human rights in science through litigation, legislation and public education.
MEDIA REPORT: “Dolly the Sheep” creator abandons human embryo cloning
November 17, 2007. The U.K. newspaper Daily Telegraph has released a stunning and exciting article revealing that Dr. Ian Wilmut, the scientist who created Dolly the sheep, “has decided not to pursue a licence to clone human embryos, which he was awarded just two years ago, as part of a drive to find new treatments.” In a show of scientific integrity, the cloning pioneer stated that he will now pursue a rival method pioneered in Japan which regresses an adult stem cell back to its “embryonic” state without having to create a cloned human embryo or use eggs.
The article states that Dr. Wilmut”s “announcement could mark the beginning of the end for therapeutic cloning, on which tens of millions of pounds have been spent worldwide over the past decade.” Most of his motivation is practical but he admits the Japanese approach is also “easier to accept socially.”
“Prof. Ian Wilmut”s decision to turn his back on ”therapeutic cloning”, just days after US researchers announced a breakthrough in the cloning of primates, will send shockwaves through the scientific establishment,” reports science journalist Roger Highfield.
Bioethics Defense Fund president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas encourages readers to review the article in full, which reports that the new technique that Dr. Wilmut will now pursue in his lab resulted from “an intense search for alternatives because of pressure from the pro-life lobby, the opposition of President George W Bush and ever present concerns about cloning babies.”
“This positive development shows that the efforts of pro-life citizens and leaders have not been in vain,” said BDF president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas. “The BDF legal team will redouble our efforts to educate lawmakers across the nation and the world about the necessity of enacting comprehensive bans on human cloning,” said Nikas.
BDF senior counsel Dorinda Bordlee noted that “this announcement underscores that no civilized society need create human life to be destroyed as raw material for lab experiments.” “This is a victory for science and the dignity of human life that will play a earth-shaking role in upcoming bioethics debates in legislatures, ballot initiatives and political contests,” said Bordlee.
Read the full article here:
Dolly creator Prof Ian Wilmut shuns cloning
By Roger Highfield, Telegraph Science Editor
Bioethics Defense Fund has worked against the practice and public funding of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research across the nation because it is yet another violation of the dignity of human life. In addition, the cloning debate has far reaching effects. For example, National Public Radio (NPR) reports that presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s pro-life views were significantly shaped by his interactions with pro-cloning scientist Doug Melton when the issue arose in Massachusetts.
In November of that year , he [Romney] met with Harvard’s Douglas Melton, a prominent embryonic stem cell researcher to discuss the issue.
“The story goes that he was put off by the cavalier way the medical researcher talked about disposing of excess frozen embryos,” says Ron Scott, a journalist and distant cousin of the candidate who is the author of a new biography, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics.
Romney has said his views on abortion were drastically altered on November 9, 2004, after discussing stem cell research with Douglas Melton, a stem cell researcher at Harvard University. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute was planning research that would have involved therapeutic cloning. According to Romney, Melton declared that the research “is not a moral issue because we kill the embryos at 14 days.” “I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction, which is it just hit us hard,” recalled Romney. “And as they walked out, I said, ‘Beth, we have cheapened the sanctity of life by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality.'” Melton disputes Romney’s account of the meeting, declaring “Governor Romney has mischaracterized my position; we didn’t discuss killing or anything related to it . . . I explained my work to him, told him about my deeply held respect for life, and explained that my work focuses on improving the lives of those suffering from debilitating diseases.”