The Washington Times
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
"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, Kansas Republican.
"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
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 medical research.
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, Utah Republican.
Some of the procedure's proponents argue it does not create a human embryo
because sperm is not involved.
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 Holocaust.
"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.
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