do not apply in therapeutic cloning, placing much of the scientific community, such as the National Academies, in favor of it. In addition, the NBAC, a minority of the President’s Council, the group of Nobel Laureates, Nancy Reagan, and Gerald Ford also generally support cloning for therapeutic purposes. Opponents include a majority of the President’s Council, and the USCCB.
Relief of Human Suffering and Moral Status of Cloned Embryos. The central debate over therapeutic cloning rests on the relative weight ascribed to potential research benefits, and that ascribed to cloned embryos themselves. All sides generally agree that research involving cloning may generate biomedical advancements that relieve human suffering. As described the President’s Council, the research “may offer uniquely useful ways of investigating and possibly treating many chronic debilitating diseases and disabilities, providing relief to millions.” Yet a majority of Council members were dissuaded from the research, arguing that “[i]f we permit this research to proceed, we will effectively be endorsing the complete transformation of nascent human life into nothing more than a resource tool.”80 Similar arguments are made by the USCCB. 79
The Council’s minority offered an opposing viewpoint: “We believe there are sound moral reasons for not regarding the embryo, in its earliest stages as the moral equivalent of a human person” but rather as having a “developing and intermediate moral worth that commands our special respect.”81 The minority based its opinion on the fact that, at the blastocyst stage (the one useful for stem cell research, for example), the cells are still undifferentiated and could still be split and develop into two separate twinned embryos, “suggesting that the earliest stage embryo is not yet an individual.”82 Furthermore, they note that the possibility for the development of a human child from a cloned embryo would require its transference to a uterus, as is currently the case with IVF.83 IVF often results in the creation of embryos that remain unimplanted, and is permitted in the United States. For all of the above reasons, the Council minority, NBAC, Nancy Reagan, Gerald Ford, and the Nobel Laureates support therapeutic cloning.
In July 2004, Dr. Paul McHugh, a member of the President’s Council who objects to the destruction of human embryos and who had voted with the Council majority for a moratorium on cloning-for-biomedical research, argued in a medical journal article that SCNT “resembles a tissue culture,” and that the products of SCNT should be available for research once regulations are in place to ensure that SCNT is conducted ethically.84 At the December 2004 Council meeting, Dr. William
79 President’s Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity, July 2002, pp. xxxi, xxxiii.
Ibid., p. xxxiii.
Ibid., p. xxxi
Ibid., p. 136.
84 Paul McHugh, “Zygote and ‘Clonote’ — The Ethical Use of Embryonic Stem Cells,” New (continued...)