Q&A on Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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QUESTION: I’m opposed to human cloning, but I feel that embryonic stem cell research has great potential. Why are so many states trying to legalize both?

There is a great deal of confusion on these points. Here are some facts that might clarify this issue:

  • Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research does seem to hold great potential
  • ESC research has experienced serious hurdles that need to be addressed
  • One of those hurdles is the “rejection factor†since ESCs are not genetically matched to the recipient
  • Cloning a person would allow for the harvesting of ESCs that would be genetically matched
  • There are two classifications of cloning – reproductive and therapeutic
  • The end result of reproductive cloning is a live birth
  • The end result of therapeutic cloning is the harvesting of stem cells
  • Therapeutic cloning is sometimes referred to as “clone and kill”
  • Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is the scientific term for cloning

To overcome the rejection factor, advocates of ESC research want the legal right to harvest embryonic stem cells and the legal right to clone potential patients so the embryonic stem cells will not be rejected when they are used on that patient.

As a way to avoid the political or ethical opposition, advocates say they are opposed to human cloning (a.k.a. “reproductive cloning”) but are in favor of SCNT (a.k.a. “therapeutic cloning”). Be wary of people who use confusing language to support their cause.

As Christians, we are not categorically opposed to new developments in scientific research, but we are opposed to methods that involve the intentional killing of human life regardless of age or presumed quality (Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 20:13). Until these concerns are addressed in ethically acceptable ways, we cannot endorse or condone either of these procedures.


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