I somehow doubt that most Americans will read in their newspapers or hear on the radio what may prove to be the most profound paragraph in the State of the Union address. The President addressed many vital issues, but among them the question of human dignity takes center stage. In the face of pressure from unethical biotech researchers and businesses, George W. Bush said this:

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research—human cloning in all its forms … creating or implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator—and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.

He thus called for four protections to be built into federal legislation—vital safeguards against the most terrible abuses of human nature that science has (so far) devised. Let's look at them one by one.

  1. A ban on cloning in all its forms. This is the ban we have been seeking for many years, yet have so far failed to pass in the Senate (the House has passed it twice)—because enough members of the Senate are beholden to lobbyists who hold out both cures and profits from the abusive cloning of embryos for research. What most of them do not know—what most Americans do not know—is that sane countries all around the world have banned this technology. It is not a "pro-life" issues, or even a "conservative" or "religious" issue. Canada has made it a felony. So has France. And the United Nations General Assembly voted last year to urge all nations to follow suit.

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Life Matters
Nigel M. de S. Cameron is now president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. His "Life Matters" column, a commentary on bioethics issues, ran from 2005 to 2006.
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