According to a press release (18 January 2002), the U.S. National Academies has released a report that says the United States should ban human reproductive cloning aimed at creating a child. The new report considers only the scientific and medical aspects of this issue, plus ethical issues that pertain to human-subjects research. Based on experience with reproductive cloning in animals, the report concludes that human reproductive cloning would be dangerous for the woman, fetus, and newborn, and is likely to fail. The study panel did not address the issue of whether human reproductive cloning, even if it were found to be medically safe, would be — or would not be — acceptable to individuals or society. Enacting a legally enforceable ban that carries substantial penalties would be the best way to discourage human reproductive cloning experiments in both the public and private sectors, the report says. A voluntary measure probably would not be effective because many of the technologies needed to accomplish human reproductive cloning are widely accessible in private fertility clinics and other organizations that are not subject to federal regulations.
Read more for additional details, links to the report online, and related news on the Presidential Council on Bioethics. The full report is available on the web on the U.S. National Academies web site; additional coverage is available in this article (18 January 2002) from Reuters News Service. Some previous Nanodot posts on this issue appeared on 22 May and 31 August 2001
In related news, an article in the New York Times (18 January 2002) and another article from Reuters (17 January) report the members of the Council on Bioethics, an advisory body appointed by President Bush, met for the first time on 17 January 2002 to consider the issue of human cloning, which Bush has said he opposes for any reason. The NYT also carried a story from the Associated Press that the nation's first research institute to announce that it was creating human embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting stem cells said that it would end the practice. The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School here drew protests from abortion opponents when it said in July 2001 that it had fertilized donated eggs specifically for stem cell research.