Holy See's Call for a Ban on All Human CloningHOLY SEE MISSION
Here is the text of the Holy See's speech delivered Monday at a U.N. session on human cloning. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave the speech.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore,
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the
Holy See to the U.N. on Agenda Item 158:
International Convention against the
Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings
behalf of my Delegation, allow me to congratulate you and other members of the
Bureau on your election. We stand ready to cooperate with you and all other delegations
in deliberating and deciding upon this important issue regarding human cloning.
The item on human cloning has been on our agenda for over two years now.
Its multifaceted impact on the very life of all humanity as well as on convictions
rooted in different cultures requires a common set of clear benchmarks that expeditiously
address all of the issues concerning human cloning. In order to contribute to
the debate in a constructive manner, my delegation has presented its views in
a position paper that offers some parameters within which the debate could possibly
unfold. The position paper has been circulated by this Working Group under document
symbol, A/C.6/WG/CRP.1, which is now before you.
While virtually all
delegations stand in opposition to reproductive cloning, there is a diversity
of views on the so-called "therapeutic" cloning; however, we must understand as
clearly as we can that the distinction between the two is superficial.
We do need to support the advancement of human biological sciences
to the benefit of all members of the human family. To this end, the Holy See supports
the procurement of human "adult" stem cells as well as the use, for research or
experimental purposes, of the "adult" stem cells, and of material derived from
them, when it is pursued in a way that does not offend human dignity and, if applied
clinically, respects the principle of informed consent. Procuring, investigating
and developing potential therapies with "adult" stem cells, as far as is known,
is a scientific course that holds great promise.
On the other end of
the spectrum, the cloning of human embryos to produce stem cells for potential
therapeutic use has not only failed to demonstrate any verifiable scientific promise,
it also raises serious ethical questions. The experimental or research cloning
of embryonic stem cells requires the production of millions of human embryos with
the intention of destroying them as part of the process of using them for scientific
research. The early human embryo, not yet implanted into a womb, is nonetheless
a human individual, with a human life, and evolving as an autonomous organism
toward its full development. Destroying this embryo results in a deliberate suppression
of an innocent human life.
My delegation is of
the view that any possible attempt to limit a ban on human cloning to that undertaken
for reproductive purposes would be nearly impossible to enforce simply because
human embryos cloned for research purposes would be widely available and would
have the potential to be brought to birth. Since human reproductive cloning is
universally condemned, only a complete ban on all forms of human embryonic cloning
would achieve the goal of prohibiting human reproductive cloning.
are other grave ethical problems which are of concern to my delegation. In the
first place, if "research" cloning with embryos were permitted, it would require,
to be effective, a large number of human eggs or oocytes. The process of obtaining
these eggs, which is not without risk, would use women's bodies as mere reservoirs
of oocytes, instrumentalizing women and undermining their dignity. In the second
place, the massive demand for human oocytes would disproportionately affect the
poor and marginalized women of the world bringing a new type of injustice, victimization
and discrimination into existence.
Furthermore, a partial ban on "reproductive"
cloning would only encourage the development of commerce in cloned human embryos
and their derivatives for scientific research or for industrial research and related
These points lead to one
logical conclusion: only a comprehensive convention on human cloning, that would
address all these issues and not just reproductive cloning, will be able to respond
to the challenges of the twenty-first century on this issue. Situations that pose
grave dangers to human dignity can only be effectively addressed by international
agreements that are comprehensive, not partial. While a partial agreement might
address immediately some issues related to human cloning, it could generate more
problems. The most durable solution should therefore be an all-inclusive legal
instrument. In fact, comprehensive conventions are not at all new to this Organization
and lately they would even seem to be the preferred legal instrument. Moreover,
an all-inclusive convention could provide a legal instrument that would sufficiently
enable States to formulate appropriate domestic legislation on human cloning.
For all these reasons, my delegation wishes to reiterate its fundamental position
that only a comprehensive convention will be able to address all issues related
to human cloning.
As we debate this important
issue, let us remain positive in our outlook and constructive in our objective.
In this spirit, my delegation shares the view of many others that the procurement
and use of human "adult" stem cells, is a moral and sound way to help all, not
just some, human beings. With the passage of each day, their great scientific
promise increases. Do we really want to render an effective and timely service
to many of our fellow human beings suffering from incurable diseases? I am sure
we all do. Let's give a powerful signal in that direction.
In this context,
let me recall here an old and wise principle of conduct. When, in an effort to
advance human science or to help human beings in need, one faces a choice between
an unobjectionable means, such as "adult" stem cells, and a means that is universally
recognized as raising profound ethical questions, such as "research" cloning,
prudence dictates choosing only the unobjectionable means.
reasons, the Holy See seeks a complete and explicit prohibition of all techniques
of creating new individual human embryos by cloning.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
See's Call for a Ban on All Human Cloning." Text distributed by Holy
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