The U.S. Congress remains practically agnostic on human cloning. Or so its inaction suggests. A bill sits in the House of Representatives waiting to face debate. A Senate bill sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback, too, waits in the wings. The president issued a challenge to the legislative branch to get moving during his State of the Union address last week, and to get moving toward a total prohibition on all human cloning — not some half-baked ban that would, in the end, let the clone creation march onward anyway; just so long as you kill them in the end.
Congress may not be acting at the moment, but New Jersey is. On Monday, the Garden State’s assembly’s health committee takes up a particularly bad bill
. Worse than the bad federal laws being proposed, the New Jersey bill does not even prohibit the implantation of a cloned embryo. The New Jersey bill would allow for the development of a clone up to and past birth, so long as scientists do not plan on someone raising the child they’ve created. It’s only okay to clone, in other words, so long as you plan to kill the clone, ultimately.
If S1909/A2840 becomes state law, New Jersey would have the disastrous distinction of being the first state to allow human cloning and fetal harvesting — the state would be allowing the manufacture of human beings to kill and use for their parts. As New Jersey Right to Life puts it, “This legislation opens a Pandora’s box where human embryo and human fetal farms, human experimentation, and reproductive human cloning will be allowed to flourish.”
All the while, however, the New Jersey bill, supported by “Superman,” activist Christopher Reeve, claims to actually ban human cloning. This is possible because the bill defines cloning after birth.
The bill, in fact, reads like New Jersey lawmakers have taken on Princeton infanticide-defender Peter Singer as a consultant. The supposed ban reads: “A person who knowingly engages or assists, directly or indirectly, in the cloning of a human being is guilty of a crime of the first degree. As used in this act, ‘cloning of a human being’ means the replication of a human individual by cultivating a cell with genetic material through the egg, embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual” (emphasis added).
The New Jersey legislation “constitutes the moral madness of killing in the cause of healing — with a possible profit motive that would encourage the grisly practice,” according to a letter sent to Governor Jim McGreevey by four members of the President’s Council on Bioethics (Princeton’s Robert P. George, Stanford’s William Hurlbut, Georgetown’s Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, and Gilbert C. Meilaender of Valparaiso University).
In their letter, the four bioethics-commission members explain:
The pending legislation expressly authorizes the creation of new human beings by cloning and, perhaps unintentionally, their cultivation from the zygote stage through the newborn stage for the purpose of harvesting what the bills themselves refer to as “cadaveric” fetal tissue. Please pause to consider whose cadaver the tissue is to be derived from. It is the cadaver of a distinct member of the species homo sapiens — a human being — who would be brought into being by cloning and, presumably, implanted and permitted to develop to the desired stage of physical maturation for the purpose of being killed for the harvesting of his or her tissues.
Gerard V. Bradley, a constitutional law professor at the University of Notre Dame has warned that the effects of the bill, if passed would be “breathtaking, unprecedented, and widely regarded as morally disastrous. These effects include, most notably, a commercial market in the body parts of fetuses, and the birth of an unlimited number of ‘cloned’ babies.”
Wesley J. Smith, author of Culture of Death: The Assault of Medical Ethics in America tells NRO: “It is remarkable — and very telling — that in less then two years, we have gone from ‘only’ wanting to harvest the stem cells from embryos left over from IVF procedures, to a state senate passing legislation that would permit the implantation and gestation of cloned fetuses to the ninth month, before requiring their destruction. This is not just a slide down a slippery slope, it is a headfirst plunge into the abyss.”
Someone in the New Jersey assembly ought to consider the consequences of their disingenuous, devastating dive before they get human life in too deep, too late for second thoughts. And Congress should take a message from the Garden State before the Brave New World renders Capitol Hill irrelevant.