Cloning

God is the author of life and has given us a way to participate with Him in bringing children into the world in marriage. Human cloning, which is currently legal in Maryland, violates that gift and is a grave moral wrong. In human cloning, eggs are surgically removed from a woman of child-bearing age. The DNA is removed from the egg and discarded. A cell is taken from the person to be cloned. The DNA is removed from that cell, but it’s not discarded; instead, it’s inserted into the egg. ell division is started with an electrical pulse, creating a new human life, a human embryo. But instead of being a unique person, as God intended, the human being created through cloning is genetically identical to the person from whom the cell was taken.

Scientists want to use human cloning for research purposes and create life according to their own set of specifications. The creation of human life is treated as a manufacturing process, and life itself as a mere man-made commodity. In fact, according to Maryland law, researchers may produce a human clone but must destroy it after only eight weeks of gestation.

Conference Position

The Conference supports legislation to ban the asexual creation of human beings through cloning.

Human Cloning Is Legal in Maryland

Scientists in Maryland have indicated a desire to conduct human cloning experiments. Legislation to ban the creation of human embryos through cloning has been rejected by the Maryland General Assembly for the past three years, which means human cloning is currently legal in Maryland.

In 2006, a law was enacted that proponents erroneously claimed would ban human cloning. But the language in the law demonstrates clearly that it does not ban human cloning, but rather it bans allowing a cloned human embryo to live. Maryland law doesn’t define human cloning as creating a human embryo using the cloning process (the scientific definition), but incorrectly defines human cloning as allowing a cloned human embryo to live past the embryonic stage. We’re called an “embryo” from conception through the eighth week of the pregnancy, then, at the beginning of the ninth week of our development, we’re called a “fetus.” Maryland law bans “the replication of a human being through the production of a precise genetic copy…in order to create a new human being or to allow development beyond an embryo.”

Note that the law doesn’t ban the creation of the cloned embryo, nor does it ban implanting the embryo in a woman’s womb and allowing the clone to grow for eight weeks. It only bans allowing the embryo to develop into the fetal stage, thus, it mandates that a cloned human embryo be killed before the beginning of the ninth week of his or her life.

Cloning is morally offensive.

The Church teaches that cloning is morally wrong. Rather than cooperating with God’s will to procreate in the natural manner given to us (through the conjugal act of marriage), cloning involves the creation of life according to scientists’ will. In human cloning, scientists create life according to their own set of specifications. The creation of human life is treated as a manufacturing process, and life itself as a mere man-made commodity.

We are all the work of God’s hands, creatures He has made. When scientists create life according to their own will, they are undermining the dignity of the human person. The creation of life through cloning involves domination over life, controlling the very genetic makeup of the cloned person. Treating the creation of life as a manufacturing process demeans the act of creating. This is one reason why human cloning is morally offensive.

Yet there is another reason why human cloning is immoral, a reason that is equally grave. Life is created through cloning not so that it may thrive, but so that it may be killed in science experiments. Some scientists claim experimenting on human embryos yields valuable scientific information, and they need human cloning to create, and destroy, the vast quantities of human embryos needed for their experiments.

In his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), Pope John Paul II spoke of the evil of killing human embryos. He referred to it as a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and to God himself. “Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying.” John Paul said that “the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings.” He also condemned procedures that exploit living embryos, sometimes specifically produced for this purpose, “either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers of organs or tissues for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.”