Supporters of a ban on human cloning have newfound support from the United Nations.

In March, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a declaration calling on member states "to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." It also urges countries to "adopt all measures necessary to protect adequately human life in the application of life sciences," including passing related legislation, and "to prohibit the application of genetic engineering techniques that may be contrary to human dignity."

While not legally binding, the declaration "sends a strong message to the world" that the destruction of human embryos for scientific experimentation cannot be tolerated, said Jeanne Head, U.N. representative for the National Right to Life Committee.

The declaration was sponsored by Honduras and adopted 84-34.

Countries voting against the ban said there is no consensus that "therapeutic cloning"—when human embryos are cloned for medical research—should be prohibited. Cloning critics disagree.

"We're redefining humanity," Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., told CT. "Will humans be the next lab rats?" On March 17, Brownback and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced the bipartisan Human Cloning Prohibition Act.

While the House has passed two bills banning human cloning for medical research, the Senate has not done so. Like previous anti-cloning bills Brownback has introduced, this latest measure would ban all forms of human cloning.

A spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the senator would soon be re-introducing a competing measure with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. It would allow for therapeutic cloning while continuing the ban on reproductive cloning—where cloned embryos are implanted in a woman's uterus with the intent of carrying them to term.

Advocates of therapeutic cloning say the research is necessary to help find cures for dozens of fatal diseases. Opponents of cloning and embryonic stem-cell research reject this claim, citing scientific progress using cord blood and adult stem cells.

"Creating human life simply for the purpose of destroying it is immoral, unethical, and should be illegal," Landrieu said.

The Senate picked up about four new members in the November election who support a human cloning ban, but opposition to a ban remains strong.

Related Elsewhere:

More information on the Human Cloning Prohibition Act is available from the Library of Congress.

More Christianity Today articles on cloning from our Life Ethics page includes:

Goodbye, Dolly | We need nothing less than a total ban on human cloning. A Christianity Today Editorial (May 15, 2002)
When Does Personhood Begin? | And what difference does it make? (June 18, 2004)
Cloning Report Breeds Confusion | Does it open the door to 'therapeutic cloning'? (May 13, 2004)
A Law That Shouldn't Be Cloned | New Jersey legalizes human cloning for research (Feb. 10, 2004)
Limited Cloning Ban Disappoints Prolife Groups | President's Council on Bioethics recommends a four-year moratorium on research cloning. (Aug. 19, 2002)
New Coalition Rallies Against Human Cloning | After Advanced Cell Technology announcement, sharp criticism comes from all sides. (Dec. 20, 2001)
Opinion Roundup: 'Only Cellular Life'? | Christians, leaders, and bioethics watchdogs react to the announcement that human embryos have been cloned. (Nov. 29, 2001)
Times Fifty | Can a clone be an individual? A short story. (Oct. 02, 2001)
Britain Debates Cloning of Human Embryos | Scientists want steady stream of stem cells for "therapeutic" purposes. (Nov. 22, 2000)

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