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Should the U.S. ban human cloning?
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The Cloning Debate

Sharisa M. Staples producer
February 18, 1998

In 1997, researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute sparked international debate when they announced the cloning of a sheep named Dolly. The event brought humankind to another crossroads of scientific research and ethical concerns.

President Clinton responded by using executive powers to ban federal funding of human cloning research in the United States. He asked the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) to review the ethical and legal implications of the new technology. They recommended that geneticists inform the public when future research would "affect important cultural practices, values and beliefs."

Legislation is pending in Congress to prohibit cloning research. House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said "cloning is the way amoebas produce – it was never intended for man."

Some scientists are concerned a cloning ban would restrict potentially beneficial research. Cloning could produce animals that possess a desirable genetic trait, for example, provide new clues to aging and cancer, and assist in the development of new medications.

Richard Seed, a Chicago scientist, announced he wants to clone a human being before Congress can ban the procedure. "What reprogramming DNA actually means is that we can talk about life extension [conquering the aging process] without being laughable. ... Each person becomes capable of assuming Godlike characteristics and indefinite life and knowledge," Seed said.

Ethicists are debating the possible effects of cloning on the physical and social development of the human species. This special report uses background stories and opinion pieces to review the latest developments in cloning research and to present the breadth of legal and ethical arguments.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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