Hurlbut, another Council member who objects to the destruction of human embryos and voted for the moratorium, made a proposal to explore the possibility of using SCNT in combination with techniques to ensure that the group of cells created cannot give rise to human life but can generate embryonic stem cells. Dr. Hurlbut explained, “using the technique of nuclear transfer, it may be possible to produce embryonic stem cells within a limited cellular system that is biologically and morally akin to a complex tissue culture and thereby bypass moral concerns about the creation and disruption of human embryos.”85 Some have criticized Dr. Hurlbut’s proposal to create something that is not an embryo, yet generates embryonic stem cells, as one focused on a “semantic issue, not a scientific one.”86 Others have lauded Dr. Hurlbut’s proposal as a potential scientific solution to a moral problem. Included among them is Dr. Leon Kass, the Chair of the Council and a well-known opponent of embryo destruction, who said the proposal raises the possibilitythat, “the partisans of scientific progress and the defenders of nascent human life can go forward in partnership without anyone having to violate things they hold dear.” 87
Deliberate Creation for Use/Destruction. A second set of considerations underlying the debate have to do with a moral aversion to the prospect of creating life in order to destroy it. As a majority of the President’s Council pointed out, cloning for therapeutic purposes requires “the creation of human life expressly and exclusively for the purpose of its use in research, research that necessarily involves its destruction, ... transform[ing] nascent human life into nothing more than a resource tool.”88 The USCCB agrees with this characterization.
The Council minority countered that the “embryos would not be ‘created for destruction,’ but for use in the service of life and medicine.”89 Further, the”practice of sacrificing the life of the unborn in order to save the live of the pregnant woman
while not a moral parallel to the case of using cloned embryos for biomedical
research — shows that there is some moral precedent for subordinating nascent human life to more developed human life.”90 The NBAC, Nancy Reagan, Gerald Ford, and the Nobel Laureates agree with this characterization.
84 (...continued) England Journal of Medicine, vol. 351, no. 3 (July 15, 2004), p. 210, at [http://content.nejm. org/cgi/content/full/351/3/209].
85 President’s Council on Bioethics, Presentation of Dr. William Hurlbut in “Transcript of the President’s Council on Bioethics,” Dec. 3, 2004, Washington, D.C., at [http://www.bioethics.gov/transcripts/dec04/session6.html].
86 Kirsty Horsey, “When Is an Embryo Not an Embryo?” BioNews, no. 287, Dec. 6, 2004, at [http://www.bionews.org.uk/commentary.lasso?storyid=2372].
87 David Brown, “Two Stem Cell Options Presented; Human Embryos Wouldn’t Be Killed,” Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2004, A1.
88 President’s Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity, July 2002, p. xxxiii.
Ibid., p. xxxi.
Ibid., pp. 137-138.