Politics & Policy

On Cloning in New Jersey

A letter to the New Jersey governor.

January 27, 2003

The Honorable James E. McGreevey


State of New Jersey

P.O. Box 001


Trenton, New Jersey 08625


Dear Governor McGreevey:

We write to express our grave concern about legislation currently pending in New Jersey (Senate Bill 1909/Assembly Bill 2840) to authorize human cloning and the harvesting and use of body parts of cloned humans in the embryonic and fetal stages of development. This legislation, if enacted, threatens to make New Jersey a haven for unethical medical practices, including the macabre practice of human fetal farming.

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.

Although the legislation purports to ban trafficking in fetal body parts for “valuable consideration,” it expressly permits “reasonable payment” for “removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage, transplantation, or implantation of embryonic or cadaveric fetal tissue.” This is a virtual invitation to cloning entrepreneurs to conduct in the State of New Jersey what would amount to fetal farming for research, presumably including experimental treatments. There seems to be nothing in the legislation to prevent cloning entrepreneurs from paying women a “reasonable” fee to gestate embryos and submit to abortions for the production of human bodily tissues and organs. The entrepreneurs could then charge a “reasonable” fee to their customers for “processing,” “preserving,” “storing,” “transplanting,” or “implanting” fetal cadavers and tissues.

And what if a gestating woman has second thoughts and decides not to abort the developing fetus? Would a court be asked to enforce a contract for abortion? We hope and trust that no court would do that. But then we would have what the sponsors of the legislation say they oppose: the birth of human clones.

We understand, and deeply share, your desire and the desire of the sponsors of this legislation to promote biomedical advances, cure dreaded diseases, and ease human suffering. We hope that New Jersey will be at the forefront of exciting research involving stem cells derived without harming living human beings at any stage of development. The approach marked out in S1909/A2840, however, is not an ethically sound way to go. On the contrary, it constitutes the moral madness of killing in the cause of healing — with a possible profit motive that would encourage the grisly practice.

Under separate cover, we are sending a copy of Human Cloning and Human Dignity, the Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics, chaired by Dr. Leon Kass, on which we have the honor to serve. The Report recommends (unanimously) a ban on cloning for the purpose of baby-making and (by a vote of 10-7) a four year moratorium on cloning for biomedical research. Please note that though seven of the seventeen members of the Council support cloning for biomedical research (subject to strict federal regulations), none indicated support for the implantation and gestation of cloned embryos for the purpose of harvesting cadaveric fetal tissues or organs.

Yours sincerely,

Robert P. George, J.D., D.Phil.

Princeton University

Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, Ph.D.

Georgetown University

William Hurlbut, M.D.

Stanford University

Gilbert C. Meilaender, Ph.D.

Valparaiso University


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