By KATHY SCHMUGGE
COLUMBIA — One of the greatest assaults on the sacredness of human life is human cloning that relegates a pre-born child as a mere commodity to go to the highest bidder. Enough South Carolina State legislators understood the moral implication of cloning and passed a bill that prohibits cloning in the state. The matter will now go before the U.S. Senate, and the support for prohibition from Sen. Ernest Hollings and Sen. Strom Thurmond is uncertain at best.
“Next week, one of the most important “life and death” debates ever will take place in the United States Senate — the debate over whether to prohibit the cloning of human beings. Today, Bishop Robert J. Baker, the Catholic bishop of South Carolina, calls upon all citizens of South Carolina and upon our Senators Strom Thurmond and Ernest Hollings to protect human life in its very origins by supporting the passage into law of the Brownback/Landrieu Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S. 1899),” said Father James LaBlanc, diocesan director of the Office of Family Life and one of the speakers who participated in the press conference on April 4 held at the State Capitol.
He also read a statement from Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who writes: “Creating human life in the laboratory by cloning should be condemned because it reduces human beings to mere products of a manufacturing technique. When cloning is done to attempt a live birth, the child is produced and wanted not for his or her own sake, but because he or she will carry traits that someone else values and wants to replicate. When cloning is done to pursue medical research, the reduction of human life to a mere instrument is even more complete, for a new human being is created solely to be destroyed for his or her cells and tissues. Even if medical benefits could be derived from such destruction, it is never morally permisible to achieve good ends through evil actions. Neither practice should be allowed in a society that claims to respect inherent human dignity.”
Father LaBlanc reiterated the grave problems with the other bills properly named the “clone and kill” bills. “Unfortunately, two other Senate bills now pending, the Feinstein Bill (S. 1758) and the Harkin Bill (S 1893) pretend to prohibit human cloning, but, in fact, do not do so. Those two bills allow for unlimited cloning of human beings, if only for research purposes. But, those bills prohibit the implanting of such a cloned human embryo in a mother’s womb, thus prohibiting that child’s maturation, birth, and life. Those bills, thus, put our government and us in the position of requiring the killing of all such cloned human beings. If either one of those two bills were to pass, Congress would be making it a crime not to destroy — that is, not to kill — members of our human family, those cloned human embryos,” said Father LaBlanc
Dr. Mark O’Rourke, a medical oncologist and hematologist as well as a parishioner at St. Mary Church in Greenville, also shared his perspective comparing the inability to see the humanity in the developing child to the blindness to slavery.
“America is as shortsighted in 2002, when we accept the human degradation of cloning and killing embryos as the price to pay for scientific and medical progress as it was shortsighted in 1802, when we accepted the human degradation of slavery as the price to pay for agricultural development and economic progress,” he said, adding that the use of adult stem cells and other medical advances offers great promise for treatment and cure without having to clone and kill human embryos.
Another speaker, Laddie Gatling, who has the chronic and degenerative disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS), also called on the senators to ban all human cloning.
“No one is more in favor of medical research to find a cure for MS than I am. But I don’t believe in searching for a cure that involves harming another individual or sacrificing innocent human life,” said the father of 11 children.
Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, said it was a battle they could win and makes a plea to the people and their representatives to do their part: “Exploiting, marketing, vivisecting, torturing and killing human beings is wrong. Senator Thurmond and Senator Hollings were once embryos. They would not be the powerful policy-makers they are today had they not first been human embryos. We urge all citizens to call Senator Thurmond and Senator Hollings and ask them to support the Brownback/Landrieu Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S. 1899). We call on them today to vote for life, not death.”