BY ANNA ARCO
CLAIMS made by a maverick American researcher that he has placed fully cloned embryos into four women are “deeply repugnant for the future of humanity”, the outgoing Bishop of Lancaster has said.
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue said the idea that cloned human embryos had not only been created but also implanted was “extremely disturbing” and that Dr Panayiotis Zavos’s claims were repugnant.
He said: “Cloning entails manipulating human life in ever more invasive ways, and this will lead to ‘making embryos to order’, as well as other more and more serious abuses.” The bishop, who retires today, said the doctors and scientists who condemned Dr Zavos for breaching a widely kept consensus on not transferring cloned embryos into a human womb, while supporting embryonic research, were “laying themselves open to a charge of hypocrisy”.
Referring to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which was passed through Parliament last year, Bishop O’Donoghue said: “The approach that is often taken in Britain is to say first that embryo research should be allowed and second that it can be strictly controlled. This is wrong on both counts. Embryo research which entails deliberately killing human embryos should never be allowed, and experience shows that once this key ethical principle is breached, it leads in turn to relentless demand for more and more embryos to be used in ever more debasing ways.
“Some have condemned Dr Zavos as ‘irresponsible’ because cloning is not ‘safe’, in the sense that cloned children might have serious physical, mental or psychological problems. However, even if all these problems could be overcome, the underlying moral objection to cloning remains.
“It creates a dislocation in the human family; it removes the begetting of children from its true context – the fruit of mutual self-giving in marriage – and turns human children into a manufactured product.” The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement condemning the doctor’s claims. “What Dr Zavos says he is doing is illegal in this country and in many other countries,” it said. If he has in fact succeeded in cloning an embryo for human reproduction, it is deeply troubling. The cloning of human embryos is inhuman and unethical. Moreover, many scientists believe human cloning is unsafe and would most likely result in miscarriage, stillbirth and children born with severe disabilities.”