Nov 27 2001

CLONING DEVALUES HUMANITY

By: Senator Richard Shelby
(as appeared in USA Today)

Like most Americans, I oppose efforts to create human beings through cloning. I believe cloning efforts mark a new and decisive step toward turning human creation into a manufacturing process that undermines the value of human life and portends unimaginable ethical choices.

While there may be great promise in finding cures for many diseases through stem-cell research, there can be no valid reason that would ever justify creating human life for the sole purpose of destroying it. Once we cross this line, we submit to the notion that some humans are less human than others; that some embryos are mere "cellular" or disposable life, and others are "human." Indeed, to relax or discard the ethical and moral guidelines that have regulated our scientific communities from our earliest beginnings will not be without historical significance.

At what cost and for what gain will we sacrifice our belief that human life is not disposable? Are we willing to scrap our core beliefs in the sanctity of life at the urging of a for-profit laboratory?

The answer is that we do not have to make this choice. Science does not demand human cloning to achieve advances in stem-cell research and the benefits this research promises.

Often, it takes a major event to awaken our appreciation of life — of our own lives and the precious lives of others. The events of Sept. 11 reinforced in many Americans the knowledge that each life is sacred and unique; we were universally touched.

No one or thing can replace the loved ones lost on that day or any day, for that matter. No laboratory can recreate a cherished life lost or replicate the human spirit that embodied it.

We are at a moral and ethical crossroads today. We can allow some in our scientific community to create and destroy human life in the name of scientific advancement, or we can support and pursue scientific-research methods that recognize and protect the sanctity of life.

Congress and the international community must act in a thoughtful and reasoned manner to define the boundaries of ethical science and ban the cloning of human beings.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is co-sponsor of a bill to ban human cloning.