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Bush: Human cloning 'morally wrong'

Bush says cloning human embryos is 'morally wrong.'
Bush says cloning human embryos is 'morally wrong.'  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush Monday criticized the creation of human embryos through cloning as "morally wrong" and "bad public policy," saying the procedure should not be allowed.

"We should not as a society grow life to destroy it, and that's exactly what's taking place," Bush said during a Rose Garden appearance.

Bush spoke one day after a Massachusetts company announced that it had created the first human embryos through cloning.

The president of Advanced Cell Technology Inc., of Worcester, Massachusetts, told CNN the process is not intended for human reproduction and he wouldn't want to see the science move in that direction.

"I don't think this is safe yet for human reproduction," said Dr. Michael West, president and CEO of the company. He said there is a risk of losing both the embryo and the mother through cloning. West also stressed that he doesn't support cloning procedures to create human beings.

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His goal, he said, is to create human embryos through cloning and extract stem cells -- master, blank cells that can transform themselves -- with the goal of using them to treat a variety of ailments.

"There are people out there, people we all care for, who are suffering and dying and need therapies now," West said.

But the revelation drew fire. A Florida Republican warned of a "slippery slope," saying that West has opened the door to reproductive cloning through the procedure.

"If you start allowing all these labs all over the place to create human clones, then it's only a matter of time before somebody tries to bring a baby to birth because the implantation of those cloned embryos would occur within the privacy of the doctor/patient relationship," said Rep. Dave Weldon, a doctor.

Weldon also cited "real serious" ethical and moral problems with cloning, whatever the goal.

He said "therapeutic cloning," as West calls the procedure, amounts to "creating human life for the purpose of exploiting it and a lot of people have ethical problems with that."

In West's study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Regenerative Medicine, scientists removed DNA from human egg cells and replaced it with DNA from a human body cell. The egg cells began to develop "to an embryonic state," a company press release said.

Of the eight eggs involved in the study, two divided to form early embryos of four cells and one progressed to a six-cell stage before it stopped dividing. This breakthrough occurred October 13.

"These are exciting preliminary developments," Robert P. Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at ACT and an author of the study, said in a statement. "This work sets the stage for human therapeutic cloning as a potentially limitless source of immune-compatible cells for tissue engineering and transplantation medicine."

"Our intention is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to make lifesaving therapies for a wide range of human disease conditions including diabetes, strokes, cancer, AIDS and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease."

Last summer, the House of Representatives voted to ban human cloning and set penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for those convicted of attempting to clone humans.

The measure was never taken up by the Senate, so it never became law.

Over the weekend, several lawmakers said West's announcement could prompt the Senate to take up the legislation.

A White House spokesman Sunday reiterated Bush's opposition to human cloning and called on Congress to outlaw the procedure.


• Advanced Cell Technology Home
• E-biomed: The Journal of Regenerative Medicine

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