Cloning by any other name still smells

Terry Jeffrey
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Posted: Aug 11, 2004 12:00 AM

 If John Kerry fulfills the campaign promise he made in last Saturday's Democratic radio address, he is truly a miracle worker. He pledged to undo what was never done.

  "Three years ago, the president enacted a far-reaching ban on stem-cell research, shutting down some of the most promising work to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, AIDS and so many other life-threatening diseases," said Kerry, opening his address. He concluded: "(W)e're going to lift the ban on stem-cell research."

 This was like promising to lift the president's ban on banana yellow cars.

 The president, of course, never banned banana yellow cars. If automakers decided tomorrow there was an infinite market for banana yellow cars, they would be free to produce nothing but such cars. No presidential edict would prevent them.

 Same goes for stem-cell research. Pharmaceutical companies are now free to devote their research budgets to nothing but stem-cell experimentation. Indeed, they would be stupid not to -- if something else Kerry said in his radio address were true. "At this very moment," said Kerry, "some of the most pioneering cures and treatments are right at our fingertips, but because of the stem-cell ban they remain beyond our reach."

 Surely some of the "Benedict Arnold companies" Kerry attacked for moving abroad to evade American taxes would have used their offshore hideaways by now to produce these lucrative cures -- if President Bush had indeed imposed a "ban on stem-cell research" and if, as Kerry claims, the cures were "right at our fingertips."

 But Bush didn't, and they aren't.

 Once again, Kerry is cloaking his true policy -- in this case, taxpayer funding for cloning and killing human embryos -- in duplicitous language. 

 Three years ago, President Bush issued a narrowly targeted policy: Tax dollars could not fund stem-cell research that required killing new human embryos, but it could be used for every other type of stem-cell research. Later, Bush backed legislation, now blocked in the Senate, to ban all human cloning.

 The president's policy stopped government from forcing taxpayers to fund the cloning and killing of human beings. It also aimed at stopping America from becoming a nation that tolerated -- perhaps even profited from -- the wholesale abuse of innocent life.

  "Research cloning would contradict the most fundamental principle of medical ethics, that no human life should be exploited or extinguished for the benefit of another," said the president in a 2002 speech. "Yet a law permitting research cloning, while forbidding the birth of a cloned child, would require the destruction of nascent human life."

 His thinking comported with the ethical principles stated in the Nuremburg Code issued by the American military tribunal that tried Nazi doctors after World War II. "No experiment," said the code, "should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur . . ."

 On July 13, Kerry joined Sens. Orrin Hatch, R.-Utah, and Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif., as co-sponsor of a bill that would do exactly what Bush is trying to stop: legalize the cloning of human beings while requiring those human beings to be killed. (The bill, S. 303, carries the misleading title, "Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act of 2003.")

  "S. 303 does not outlaw the act of human cloning at all," writes Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith in The Weekly Standard. "Indeed, if passed, Hatch-Feinstein-Kerry would explicitly legalize doing in humans the very procedure -- somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) -- that was used to make Dolly the sheep." (Emphasis in original.)

 Hatch-Feinstein-Kerry simply redefines the term "human cloning." Artificially crafting a human embryo that is the genetic duplicate of another human being is not "human cloning," according to the bill. "Human cloning" is only the act of placing the duplicated human being in a mother's womb -- or a substitute for a womb.

  "The term 'human cloning,'" says the bill, "means implanting or attempting to implant the product of nuclear transplantation into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus."

 If implanted, this "product of nuclear transplantation" would do the same thing as any other implanted human embryo: It would become a human fetus, infant, toddler, teenager. The Hatch-Feintein-Kerry solution: Death at 14 days.

 In the "Fourteen Day Rule," the bill refers to a cloned human being as "an unfertilized blastocyst" and says: "An unfertilized blastocyst shall not be maintained after more than 14 days from its first cell division . . ."

 Just as Kerry says he wants to lift a ban on stem-cell research that Bush never imposed, he also wants to legalize the cloning and killing of human beings while pretending to prohibit cloning and serve human life.