Clergy tell senators
support depends on cloning ban
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A broad coalition of Christian clergy yesterday urged the
Senate to quickly pass a bill banning the cloning of human
embryos for any purpose, and warned senators that this vote
would be crucial for pro-life constituencies in upcoming elections.
"Human cloning of any kind cheapens human life," said the
Rev. Peter West, who represented Priests for Life at a press
conference yesterday on a bill proposed by Sen. Sam Brownback,
"We will ask people to especially
take into account the vote on [the Brownback bill] when they
exercise their right and duty to vote in November."
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director
of the Christian Defense Coalition, said: "This will be one
of the key issues in the midterm and presidential elections."
The House has passed an identical
anti-cloning bill, and President Bush has called on the Senate
to quickly pass the Brownback bill. The cloning debate is
expected to reach the Senate floor this month.
Ten to 15 senators remain undecided;
the rest of the Senate is divided on the issue. Some opponents
of Mr. Brownback's bill favor alternative legislation that
would ban the implantation of a cloned human embryo into a
uterus but would allow "therapeutic" cloning — by which the
human cloning procedure is used to extract stem cells for
Therapeutic cloning supporters
have combined their efforts behind a bill that allows the
procedure, which they say could hold the key to curing a host
of ailments and diseases, and is backed Sen. Orrin G. Hatch,
Some of the procedure's proponents
argue it does not create a human embryo because sperm is not
Religious leaders, led by the
National Pro-Life Religious Council, have denounced this approach.
They say it would allow the creation of human life — cloned
human embryos — solely to be destroyed in the name of science,
and that the Brownback bill is the only moral option.
"To 'manufacture' human life
for the purpose of intentionally destroying it through experimentation
is always and everywhere wrong," said the Rev. Keith A. Fournier,
president of Common Good and a member of the Catholic Clergy.
Mr. Mahoney, a minister in the
Reformed Presbyterian Church, said senators cannot claim to
be pro-life and oppose the Brownback bill in favor of the
alternative cloning bill, as Mr. Hatch has done.
"You are not pro-life," Mr.
Mahoney said to Mr. Hatch and other senators contemplating
such a position. "You cannot have it both ways. A clear line
in the sand must be drawn."
Mr. Mahoney said senators who
vote for the cloning of human embryos for medical research
can expect to lose support of pro-life groups.
Religious leaders compared the
procedure to genetic experimentation conducted during the
"We decried that dehumanization
as a travesty, but now seem ready to enter into a sequel,
where those who have no voice will again become victims in
the quest for innovation," said Randolph Sly, archbishop of
the Eastern Province of the International Communion of the
Charismatic Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Robert Schenck , president
of NPRC, said his group has identified 11 senators who are
undecided. The NPRC — which represents constituent groups
within Evangelical Protestant, Old-line Protestant, Orthodox
and Roman Catholic churches — along with other religious leaders
"will now begin a very aggressive visitation" of senators.
The religious community is not
united on the issue. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive
Choice pointed out that the United Church of Christ, the Union
of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical
Council all support therapeutic cloning.
Copyright © 2002 News World Communications,
Inc. All rights reserved.