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Pope, President, U.S. Senators Criticize New Cloned Embryos

By Rick Weiss

Sunday’s announcement that scientists in Massachusetts had begun to make cloned human embryos reverberated through international scientific, religious and legislative circles Monday, culminating in words of disapproval from many and a call in the U.S. Senate to quickly pass legislation banning the research.

“The use of embryos to clone is wrong,” Bush told reporters Monday. “We should not as a society grow life to destroy it. It’s morally wrong in my opinion.”

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said he would scrap a recent agreement he’d made with the Senate leadership, through which all discussion of human cloning legislation was to be postponed until early next year, and would instead push hard to pass a sweeping ban in the waning weeks of this session.

And in Rome Monday, Vatican authorities swiftly and unequivocally condemned ACT’s announcement, spurning the idea that an “early embryo” is not yet life. Even the possibility of saving other lives cannot justify the production of an embryo that is destined for destruction, the vatican said in a statement. “If what they call in their article an ’early embryo’ ... isn’t human life,” it asked, “then what is?”

“There is a big difference between cloning a human embryo in order to create a human being and using laboratory techniques to produce stem cells and other cellular therapies to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, cancer or Alzheimer’s,” said Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research.

Some Senators also spoke out for a tempered response. “I strongly oppose the use of cloning technology to reproduce a human being,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “But we must also protect essential areas of medical research involving cloning technology, including stem cell research. This research hold enormous promise for achieving breakthrough cures for the dreaded diseases that touch almost every family in America.”