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As of press time, the Massachusetts Senate is expected to pass a bill that would promote human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research. The bill is also expected to swiftly pass in the House.
Earlier in the week, Senate Bill 25 surfaced from the joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies with added language that strengthens measures that would prohibit the cloning of embryos to produce a baby. However, despite the change, the bill’s fundamental flaws remain: the promotion of embryonic stem-cell research and the endorsement of cloning.
The revised bill seeks to appease growing opposition to state endorsement of cloning by creating an Institutional Review Board. That board would be required to approve any stem-cell research and would “consider the ethical and medical implications of the proposed research.”
Unfortunately, the proposed law that would create the review board also includes language stating that “somatic cell nuclear transfer” — the scientific term for cloning — “shall be permitted.” As a result, the review board will be working with the presumption that the act of cloning human beings is ethical — only particular uses of cloned embryos will be judged ethical or unethical.
That argument is disingenuous. Cloning — all cloning — is unethical. There is no proper way to use a cloned human: it can either be destroyed to extract stem cells, implanted in a uterus to be partially developed and then “harvested” for “parts,” or carried to term to create a cloned baby.
Gov. Romney’s vocal opposition to the bill is welcome despite the fact that he fails to concede that destruction of embryos for experimentation is inherently wrong — even if those embryos are considered “surplus.”
However, since embryonic stem-cell research has little value without cloning, it is likely that biotechnology lobbyists would rather see no measure passed — maintaining the status quo — than a bill that promotes stem-cell research but restricts human cloning.
The governor should use his veto power to prevent the bill from becoming law. No human life should be created with the purpose of destroying it for the sake of scientific experimentation. History should have taught us of the consequences of crossing that line.