L'Enfant Plaza Hotel
480 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024
January 18, 2002
- Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman
American Enterprise Institute
Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
L. Carter, J.D.
Yale Law School
S. Dresser, J.D.
Washington University School of Law
W. Foster, M.D.
University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School
Johns Hopkins University
Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D.
P. George, D.Phil., J.D.
Ann Glendon, J.D.,
B. Hurlbut, M.D.
F. May, Ph.D.
Southern Methodist University
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
C. Meilaender, Ph.D.
D. Rowley, M.D., D.Sc.
The University of Chicago
Q. Wilson, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Leon R. Kass, M.D., Chairman
5: Human Cloning 2: Ethical Issues in Clonal Reproduction
Discussion of Clonal Working Paper
Session 6: Human
Cloning 3: Policy Issues and Research Cloning
Discussion of Clonal Working Paper
7: Public Comments
Leon R. Kass, M.D., Chairman
The agenda for today is as announced in the briefing book. We will
have Sessions 5 and 6 of this meeting, both on human cloning. The
first, from now until about 10 o'clock, on the ethical issues, the
ethical issues in clonal reproduction, and then, after the break,
the policy issues in clonal reproduction and opening discussion
on research cloning. After the break, at noon, we will have a final
session for public comments, and I do not know— Have people signed
up already? Anyone who would like to make a public comment should
please notify Diane Gianelli who is in the back of the room, our
Yesterday we spent most of our time on questions related to how
to do bioethics in the hope that we could enrich the consideration
of these questions, beginning with a discussion of The Birth-mark,
exploring the aspiration to perfection and its problems and limits.
Then we went on to Gil Meilaender's paper which raised a series
of questions, talked about certain aspects of the character of human
life that are relevant to consideration of bioethical issues. And
then, in a somewhat loose and chaotic discussion, we tried to talk
about the context into which human cloning fits by having discussion
about the meaning of human procreation and what one might value
I think had we followed Michael Sandel's original suggestion to
begin, really, with the objections to cloning, we might have gotten
farther in the search for what we positively affirm about this,
in the way in which one generally does not think about health until
one has to confront disease, and then one comes to think about what
it is that one is missing. But this morning's session, I think,
is the opportunity at least to do that head-on.
5: HUMAN CLONING 2: ETHICAL ISSUES IN CLONAL REPRODUCTION
The first session this morning is on the ethical issues in clonal
reproduction, and the texts for discussion, though they are meant
really as a springboard for discussion, are Working
Paper 3 which is in two parts at your Tabs 2E and 2F.
And let me say something since there might be some misunderstanding
about the working papers. These working papers are not the official
work of this Council. They are not part of any report, or anticipation
of any report. They have been prepared by the staff at my direction
to try to outline as best one can the arguments both in favor, the
arguments in favor of human reproductive cloning, and the arguments
opposed to it.
Similarly, when we come to the discussion of the policy options,
there is an attempt to at least raise the kinds of questions that
either have been raised, or might be raised, about the various legislative
alternatives that are before us. And similarly, with respect to
the question of therapeutic cloning, or research cloning, which
we can only get into briefly today, to trigger some conversation.
No one is standing behind any or all of these arguments. Those arguments
have been prepared by searching the literature to see what people
have said about those matters, and they have put these arguments
before us in these several working papers. I remind people who have
picked up copies of the working papers that we ask that these be
treated as not for quotation or attribution, precisely because of
their status as working papers for the discussion by this body.
I trust that members have read the two parts of Working
Paper 3, the arguments for and against reproductive cloning.
I do not know that I want to summarize these, but we might turn
pages together. The structure of the first working paper, the arguments
for reproductive cloning, sets forth reasons that have been offered
by one or another advocate, summarized on page 3 and 4. Some of
these arguments have been to enhance human reproductive freedom,
and to provide treatments for infertility, and to avoid the risk
of known genetic disease, and the like. And other arguments have,
in fact, been made. Whether these are appropriate or not remains
to be discussed. For example, to allow people to replicate individuals
of great genius, et cetera, et cetera. Those arguments are made.
Whether the biology would support that or not is a long question.
Then there is in this paper arguments against a ban on reproductive
cloning, multiple arguments made, and the rest of the paper, the
structure of the rest of the paper beginning on page 6 to the end
really are arguments against the arguments against cloning. In other
words, they are an attempt to neutralize the arguments that are
made against human reproductive cloning in anticipation of the arguments
that are going to be made by the antagonists in the next part. We
have chosen to present these, by the way, as separate briefs rather
than as an ongoing dialectical discussion partly to sharpen the
focus to begin with.
In Working Paper 3b, the arguments
against reproductive cloning, there are eight separate kinds of
arguments here, questions having to do with safety, questions of
consent, especially the bizarre question of wondering about implied
consent to do the experiment on the child-to-be, or to have a child
become a cloned child. Then, questions about the relation between
reproductive cloning and the prospects for enhancement or quote
unquote "eugenics"; arguments about nature and respecting
the natural way; arguments about manufacture and commodification,
touching on things that we did discuss yesterday; arguments about
identity and individuality, also touching on things that were at
the heart of the discussion yesterday, including arguments having
to do with the child as a surprise; some discussion about family
relations and procreation.
And finally, if I may stress something which I think will be welcome
to at least some people who spoke yesterday, a last point generally
ignored in the discussions which usually focus on individual rights,
a discussion, arguments, about the impact on society, pointing out
that while the use of reproductive cloning might be a private choice,
it is a public act in some way. And the question is whether a society
that clones human beings is a different society, even if it is a
minority practice, just as the question could be raised whether
a society which permitted the buying and selling of babies, or the
buying and selling of organs, even if done on a small scale, would
be the same society. The question is whether this should be discussed
simply in terms of rights, or whether the larger social considerations
That by way of warm up. I think that for this discussion, (and it
is obviously just the first of several such discussions we are going
to have), I think it would be best if we went around and asked people
to say how they respond to these various briefs, as if one were
a judge hearing this argument, and to indicate which of the arguments
one thinks are better or worse, and which ones seem just irrelevant.
With this, I will stop. I am mindful of comments by Michael Gazzaniga
and Paul McHugh yesterday, particularly, Paul, your remark about
reading The Birth-mark as a young man, and thinking that that reaction
was superior; and Michael Gazzaniga's remark almost saying that,
look, this is a repellent idea. What is there to discuss? And there
is a question whether or not these arguments are adequate to the
task, but we are a public body, and we are, I think, compelled to
try to give reasoned arguments for whatever judgments we might reach,
though it might very well be that the analytical discussion does
not support the conclusion that one intuitively might reach. But
that is a risk one takes, and I think we should just proceed.
So, consider yourself presented with these briefs, and let's hear
what the reaction is. Is anybody persuaded by anything in here one
way or the other?
In 3a, I think it is important to, on page 5, to separate
out what we are discussing in terms of reproductive cloning,
and things like artificial insemination, and IVF, because
I think they are different. And the reproductive cloning,
as we are discussing, or as it is generally referred to, is
taking the intact nucleus of an individual, and that is then
the nucleus that becomes the genetic material of the resulting
embryo, whereas both artificial insemination and IVF have
two partners, male and female, sperm and egg, that are joined
together. So, the individual formed from the union of the
sperm and the egg is a totally different and unique individual,
and I think it is very important to make sure that we do not
appear to confuse these.
No, that is very welcome. I do not want to cut you off. You are
going on to other things?
On this particular point, I think certainly in the public discussion
of this, people— Part of the reaction to the arguments that we
should ban reproductive cloning is that this would, in fact, have
a chilling effect on other assisted reproductive technologies, and
that in fact, in the Congressional testimony, various members of
Congress wanted reassurance on this question, and some of them were
not even satisfied that if you move against reproductive cloning
you are not also threatening these other things. But I think it
is easy to make the distinction. I think the distinction can be
clarified, and it is one of our tasks. But this is an argument that
has been advanced, and yesterday's discussion, in fact, between
Jim Wilson and Gil raised the question of whether the argument that
is being used here does not also apply retroactively to that, and
that does at least mean that we have to be mindful of the relation,
and the need to make these careful distinctions, lest we do too
This is really just a question in response to— Do we take it for
granted that having a chilling effect on other reproductive technologies
would be a bad thing? I think listening to some of the arguments
that were made yesterday against cloning, at least some views around
the table would not take it for granted that having a chilling effect
would be a bad thing on these other—on IVF and so on. So that,
at least, should be open as we explore the grounds, and it may affect
which grounds we most want to emphasize.
Very good. Point well taken. Rebecca, please.
I understand you would like us to focus on ethical issues right
now, and save policy for later?
Yes, I think we should make a separation on this. And the plan really
is, this is the first explicit discussion on the arguments pro and
con reproductive cloning, and then, in the second session, we will
take up the policy options constrained— I mean, there are lots
of policy options, but we have constrained ourselves because the
policy options now under consideration which we ought not to neglect
are these three legislative alternatives, do nothing, partial ban,
complete ban. So, let's confine our discussion here to the arguments
in Working Paper 3a and b.
Okay. Well, I would like to request that a little more attention
be given to the human research ethics considerations. It is briefly
mentioned, safety issues, but I think a richer exploration of what
we in bioethics are familiar with, the Belmont Report. There are
these basic principles governing research on human subjects, and
I have a lot of concerns about the ethics of studying this in humans.
Respect for persons is one of these principles, and that requires
that we protect people who are incapable of making their own decisions.
And even if you are someone who says that the embryo does not merit
protection, if you are getting into the situation where you are
talking about a child to be born, the intent is to have a child
through this procedure, you know, there are real questions about
what kinds of animal evidence do we need to justify this, would
it ever be sufficient.
Also, respect for persons means respecting the autonomous choices
of people who can make their own decisions. This requires accurate
disclosure to, say, prospective parents who might want to try to
use this technology. I believe there has been a lot of exaggeration
about the possible success, and I believe there are distorted beliefs
about how well this would work. And so, I have those concerns.
And then, beneficence is another principle which says risks to the
human subject must be justified by benefits, either to the subject,
or to society in general. And so, I think here is where we can talk
about the value of the benefits that would flow from this.
And then, the other primary principle is justice, and here we want
to talk about how would the benefits from this technology be distributed.
And I guess I would also raise concerns about allocation. As I mentioned
yesterday, I am concerned about allocation of scarce resources for
scientific research as well as health care. Is this really something,
given the many other priorities we have in scientific research as
well as health care, is this something we ought to invest a lot
of resources and scientific energy in. So, those are things I think
are not addressed in detail here that I find important and would
like to have considered.
Let me interrupt with a procedural point. I will, unless instructed
otherwise, take these comments as the basis of an invitation to
members of Council to go home and submit to— We have the notes,
but if you would like to elaborate on that, anyone would like to,
it would greatly enhance the drafting of the next materials for
our discussions. So, if you would like to get us some materials
on that, that would be very, very welcome.
Thanks, Leon. I just have two quick points. The first is to endorse
the point that Michael Sandel made this morning, which I interpret
really as a concern that the Council be willing to follow the argument
wherever it leads. I think we could probably best serve the President
and the nation, particularly at this point in our deliberations,
(we may have to narrow things down the line), but in having a kind
of Socratic attitude toward these questions, and let's just see
where they go in the course of argument.
The second point is a point about the language in which the debate
over cloning is framed. Commentators on contemporary moral debates
ranging from assisted suicide to homosexuality, abortion, all the
hot button issues, have observed that largely these debates are
framed as attempts to control the language of the debate. They can
produce terms that resonate with a broader public to make them work
on one side of the debate or the other. Of course, that is entirely
understandable, and I think not inappropriate in political debate.
But it tends to obscure, when the debate becomes a debate over language,
it tends to obscure the real understanding of people whose concern
fundamentally is not to win, but to understand.
I say this by way of introduction of a position that I want to state
on the record, and that is that I myself do not believe that there
is a distinction between reproductive and therapeutic cloning. And
I think that the distinction, and the use of those terms, is unfortunate.
As I will argue later, and at future meetings, I think that all
cloning is reproductive, and that no cloning, strictly speaking,
is therapeutic. And I appreciate the fact that in the working papers
the staff has been sensitive to the fact that there is a debate
even over the appropriateness of the use of these terms, and has
used quotation marks in a way that does not bias the question in
one way or another, but simply marks the fact that people disagree
about the terms, and that disagreement reflects an underlying moral
disagreement on the subject of cloning.
So, I want to say that while I will cheerfully respect people's
use of these terms, and will be willing to use them myself to make
myself clear in the context of the debate, because reasonable people
do disagree with me about this, and believe that there really is
a significant moral distinction between reproductive and therapeutic
cloning such that those terms and the distinction between the two
are useful and make sense, I just want to put on the record in advance
that I think the distinction itself is morally problematic. It is
not one that I myself accept, but I am happy to carry on the debate.
Robby, I would like to place myself as one of those reasonable people
who does disagree with you, because I think it is very important
in defining what it is that therapeutic or reproductive medicine
involving cloning is versus—sorry, non-reproductive versus reproductive
cloning, which has the clear, stated intention of producing a child.
I think that it may be very helpful for this debate if we look very
carefully at what stages in human development are involved in each
of these, and how we think about those stages in human development
because I think that is a very important part of this debate in
weighing the cost-benefit ratio of both reproductive cloning on
the one hand, which I really believe is distinguishable in my mind
from the kind of process that would be involved in regenerative
So, I do not think it is semantics over words. I think we will need
to look carefully at what it is we are dealing with in terms of
the cells and material.
I would just like to direct a follow-up question to Elizabeth on
that. Those of us who are non-scientists would benefit from having
some fuller idea whether now in a promissory way, or maybe in some
future session, on what that enquiry might consist of.
I think this would be a useful thing for this Council to consider,
some accessible explanation which does try to go into a little bit
more detail. We had a very brief outline in our working paper which
I think is not sufficient to explain, perhaps, the essential issues.
So, I do not know what form this would take, but I think it would
be very helpful.
I think it would be very valuable if we could have some way, particularly
for us non-scientists, because it is very abstract. We are used
to these very abstract discussions about the status of embryos at
different stages, but actually to have some scientists, whether
through a lecture, a slide presentation, written materials, or whatever
it might be, really to make more concrete what exactly the stages
in human development are.
Excellent. I mean, I think the background working paper was by everyone's
account simply a start on this, to give people who might be simply
unfamiliar with the terms some of the basic elements. I do not think
there is anything in there that is wrong. I mean, I think there
might be things in there that are vastly incomplete. I do not think
we have made any gross errors there on the science. But we will
have the benefit of the National Academy's report on this which
I am sure will have a great deal to assist us with. But I think
on the basic biology, perhaps, Elizabeth, you and Dick Roblin on
our staff could perhaps speak even before you leave the meeting,
and we can sort of talk about ways to get this material.
And I am quick to suggest perhaps other members of our Council as
well might join us in this endeavor, because I know I will be beyond
my own personal expertise, and so, any other volunteers would be
Excuse me. I would like to add my voice of disagreement with your
position. You know, the whole issue of this, where we get into the
stem cell therapeutic cloning versus the reproductive cloning bumps
up against so many sort of facts that are on the ground now, and
the whole issue could be looked at in terms of transplant medicine.
So, we now have, as you all know, transplantation of organs going
on. How it works is a patient is declared brain-dead by the neurologist,
and the surgeons are right there harvesting the organs for transplantation,
the heart, the liver, the lungs. And so, we have right now a culturally
accepted way of, once we recognize someone is brain-dead, their
organs are free to be used to save other lives.
In the young embryo, up to (if I have this right; I will double
check) but I think it is up to the fortieth day, there are no neurons
yet formed for the cerebral cortex, for the brain. Basically, you
have a brainless entity. So, in some sense, the laws that govern
the next-of-kin to donate the heart, the lungs, to other people
from a brain-dead human, the parents of the IVF extra embryos could
donate their brainless blastocysts to be used for stem cell use,
and for other medical good. So, one could obviate this whole problem
by casting this picture in terms of recognized transplant law, which
there is laws on this and so forth, and see the problem from that
point of view.
Let me— I can see where this last intervention could go, with a
long discussion on that. We have noted that there is a terminological
issue. One of the real contributions of this Council would be a
careful exploration of those terminological matters, reaching conclusion
if we can, laying out the alternatives if we cannot, but it is an
I do not think anybody ought to be trying to win the moral argument
by redefinition. I think there is too much of that that goes on.
We would be irresponsible if we did not try to sort these things
out, and recognizing the ambiguities, and the differences of the
perspectives, try to call things by their better names rather than
But look, I have the sense that people are once again uncomfortable
grabbing the nub of the question before us. The question before
us is not therapeutic cloning. The question before us is what even
Robby George is willing for the sake of our proceeding with the
discussion to call cloning for baby-making. That is the question.
That is where we have the arguments here laid out. And we have heard
from Rebecca, who thinks that we have shortchanged the human research
ethics aspects of this discussion, and would like to see more. And
I think we would like to hear more on the merits.
Stephen, and then Jim.
A couple of, three really, small comments. Although first I should
say that if we are going that way, I am probably a reasonable or
unreasonable voice who would associate myself with Robby George's
position. So, I did not want him to think he was alone at the table.
But that is not really the intervention I intended.
I think Rebecca raises a very good point about one aspect that we
should look at very closely. However, I do think that whatever our
conclusion may be, that even those of us around the table which
I am willing to bet on being the majority, (but I may be wrong),
who think there ought to be a ban on human reproductive cloning,
should be very cautious.
Government regulation has a long and unbroken history of hitting
the wrong targets, and it is not merely a matter of a chilling effect.
Indeed, that is a phrase that probably gets a little bit overused.
But, sometimes the direct effect is to hit a target other than the
one that was planned or expected to be hit. The history, for example,
of the regulation of speech is a good example of this, the regulation
of speech, whether we are talking about speech codes on campus,
or seditious libel 200 years ago, or other things of that sort.
And so, I think that we ought to tread very carefully when we urge
the state to get into the matter of the regulation of scientific
research. That is, as to the subject. When I say subject, I mean
the topic of the research, or the area into which one ought to look.
I am not saying for that reason that we should not endorse the ban
on human cloning. I am simply saying we should be very cautious,
and we should be extremely clear in our terms, and mindful of the
tendency of regulation to grow vastly, and clumsily, but rapidly,
beyond the original limits of those who favor it for a discrete
purpose at a particular time.
Point well taken. But if I may also, it is on the topic for the
next session, namely the question of the ban. Here, the question
really is the moral argumentation for and against reproductive cloning.
We might conclude that we do not like it, but we should try to do
nothing about it, and that is a perfectly reasonable option. There
are lots of things that go on in society that we do not like.
Jim Wilson, and then Mary Ann, and then Gil.
I would like to try to get the argument back to the ethics, but
in the form of a question to Robert. I may have misunderstood what
he said, but he expressed a concern about this distinction between
regenerative cloning and reproductive cloning, and I can well understand
why he would be uncomfortable with those words. But there are two
implications, two somewhat different implications.
One implication is that there is a slippery slope. If you start
engaging in regenerative cloning, you will wind up with full cloning,
and this, I think, led Michael, properly, and others, to say let's
learn more about the biology here so we can figure out how it is
going. The other implication is that once a sperm enters a cell,
it is a living human being, and therefore, nothing can be done,
and therefore, the argument stops there.
And so, what I want to ask Robert is which of those two views is
Thanks, Jim. Yes, it is the latter. It is the idea that once we
have a human embryo, we have a new human being who is a subject
of rights and protection, rather than an object to be manipulated.
So, that is why I think it is a mistake to use the language, although
for these purposes I am happy to do it, subject just to this proviso,
that I think there is a problem with it. I think we can usefully,
nevertheless, use it in these discussions. I am happy to do that
if it will advance the debate. But I think since the clone of the
new human being is not going to be the beneficiary of the procedures,
it is actually not true, strictly speaking, to refer to this as
therapeutic cloning. I can make a much longer—there is a much longer—
I do not want you to at this point, because I think the issue is
clear, but the terminological niceties at this point are not advancing
the discussion of what we are supposed to discuss, if I may be so
The point is very well taken, and I think Jim's intervention helps
you to clarify what the issue is, and we will meet it.
I think it was Mary Ann— You were actually going to speak to the
issue, Jim, or—
No, I just wanted to clarify.
Will someone, please? Mary Ann?
PROF. GLENDON: I hope you will consider this speaking
to the issue. I want to make some observations about the structure
of the arguments for and against the ban. It seems to me that the
observations are not only pertinent to this issue, but to many issues
that may come before the Council.
The arguments for the ban are arguments in terms of limits on freedom.
The arguments against the ban are in the familiar language about
freedom, various kinds of freedoms. In that kind of debate between
freedom and limits, one notices that when you talk about freedom,
we are in a familiar, common language that is shared by Americans
of all sorts. But when you start to talk about limits on freedom,
that common language disappears, and if you look at each argument
separately, you will find that the separate arguments may appeal
to some people who believe in that particular limit, but not to
people who believe in another limit. I think this is going to be
a general problem for our Council, that there is a shared American
vocabulary and discourse about freedom, and a lot of difficulty
in finding common ground in which to talk about limits.
That relates to a second kind of problem: who decides about limits?
If you do not want legislatures to decide this, then you are making
a decision about probably the role of business and the market. Do
we really want such issues of great gravity to be decided by market
If you resort to the institution which in our constitutional structure
very often has the job of working out limits to what appear to be
absolute freedoms in the Constitution, but we all know they are
not, then you are going to have the decisions made by judges. This
whole range of questions lies beneath this argument for and against
a ban. And there perhaps is (this will be my final observation)
there perhaps is something to be said in a society where the great
majority of people for different reasons have a deep feeling that
something is morally repugnant, there is something to be said for
having that decision made by the institution that, however imperfectly
in the normal, democratic process, reflects the sentiments of the
Yes. A comment on some of the arguments in the working papers. Let
me start with the arguments against cloning. To me, in certain respects,
the most powerful arguments are two that are in a lot of ways related,
the one that is number 5 on page 11, manufacture and commodification,
and number 7 on page 17 about family and procreation. They are linked
in a lot of ways. I mean, there are different nuances, but the commodification
argument talks about the sense in which reproduction in the normal
way endows each new generation with the dignity and freedom that
those who have come before had, and the sense in which cloning which
starts with a particular kind of product in mind might change that.
The other argument about the relation of the family relation talks
about the normal reproductive process, acknowledging at least tacitly
a certain kind of humility before what it is that results, and accepting
a certain kind of limits over one's power to control the next generation.
Those two arguments are related, and I think they are powerful ones,
and deserve to be taken seriously.
Over against that, in terms of Working
Paper #4 cloning, and I was trying to find this— Someplace
in one of these working papers, it mentions it, and I could not
lay my hands on it right at this moment. But there is kind of a
burden of proof issue, I think, that really emerges, because to
me, the most powerful argument in a sense that emerges from the
Working Paper 4 cloning is not so much some single argument as it
relates to what Mary Ann just said. I mean, why try to stop people
from doing this? You know, it is not going to be a large number
of people who do it. Can you really demonstrate that your concerns
are so great that you should impinge on people's freedom here? I
mean, there is kind of a— One gets worn down by that argument which
is so powerful in our society, which makes me think that in some
ways, really, the crucial issue is the last one that comes up in
that working paper against cloning, the one that you noted in your
opening remarks, the impact on society question. That is to say,
is it really just a free, private choice? Are there kind of larger—
Are we learning to think as a society in different ways? Even if
very few of us do it, I mean, in some way or other one comes to
that. But it is the burden of proof issue, I think, that is really
crucial in weighing the clash between the arguments set forth in
the two papers.
Good. Janet, and then Michael.
Well, I would like to just follow up with you, Gil, on these concerns
that you have raised, particularly on manufacture. And I guess what
I am trying to say here, the question is, the implication is, that
reproductive cloning would replace the normal intercourse that leads
to pregnancy in general. And I was wondering how you think that
is going to be prevented so that reproductive cloning becomes the
norm in society.
Gil, do you want to respond?
I have no desire to prevent that.
If you do not, then why is it even an issue? I mean, I understand,
and I have been educated by the Chair that these are arguments that
have appeared in various fora that are collected here for our consideration.
But I think at some point it is also—it would be helpful if the
Council reviewed the various fors and againsts and said this is
a reasonable argument to support a position, and this is really
not a reasonable argument to support a particular position. So,
I just want your views on that.
It relates to what I said at the very end of my remarks relating
to that impact on society issue, and in a sense, one has to decide
about that. In other words, the question is whether the fact that,
if it turns out to be that, that just a few people do this means
that it is of very minor importance in the way a society learns
to think about the children who are produced, whether produced through
cloning or in the normal manner, or whether it trains us all to
think in different ways. That is to say, whether it remains a rather
isolated, private choice, or whether it has public effect. That
is the issue one has to think about finally.
Yes, I mean, I think some arguments depend upon the scale of use
as to whether it is socially important, and others might simply
say a society that tolerates certain kinds of minority practices
might arguably be a different society. I mean, there would not be
a lot of incest, I suppose, if there were not a prohibition against
it, and yet, we feel strongly to enunciate the societal view on
that. I mean, I take it that is at least a question here, and I
really mean it as a question, not as something settled.
I have forgotten the queue. Was it Bill, and then Michael, or Michael
and then— Michael, and then Bill, and then Stephen. I am sorry,
Frank. Excuse me.
Well, I want to address directly our Chair's question, but then
also, draw from that an observation about the character of our discussion.
The direct answer is one thing that strikes me looking at the arguments
for reproductive cloning is that they really, except for one or
two, are not very persuasive. The only one here— Infertile couples
have other ways. They can adopt children, or use other means. The
only one that is weighty, really, is allowing people to have children
without the risk of known genetic diseases. That is "c".
And maybe "e", people who would want to have transplant
donors for a desperately ill child. None of the others are really
One of the things that strikes me about the reproductive cloning
discussion is that intellectually it is not very interesting because
the arguments for it are not very compelling. The arguments against
it, discussing the objections, is very interesting, and there yesterday
we got into discussions of nature, of procreation, of family, of
human will, mastering mysteries, strangeness, commodification, repugnance
and its moral status. Those are interesting questions. But the reason
they are interesting, unlike these arguments about reproductive
cloning as such is that something was at stake in the discussions
that we were having about how best to account for the repugnance.
And the reason something was at stake, and it was intellectually
interesting, and it mattered to know, is it because we worry about
family, or about the asexual character, or because destroying the
mystery, or because exalting the human will? The reason those were
interesting is that which of those reasons were compelling and sound
have consequences for other related issues. And everybody knows
that. And that is why, and this is the comment on the discussion,
why Leon, you have been heroically and masterfully trying to rein
in wild horses who keep trying to pull this discussion in other
directions. And I think the reason for that is, and you have good
reason for wanting to do that, because the instinct is if we get
into so-called therapeutic, so-called research cloning, and these
other areas, then there are more compelling arguments for doing
it than we have here. These are weak arguments on the whole for
reproductive cloning. Nobody is really taken with them. The other
arguments are stronger, and the counter arguments matter, which
of those theories we really adopt. But the fear is that we are going
to get stuck on the moral status of the embryo, and we do not want
that. But I think the gravitational pull that you are very adeptly
and skillfully struggling against by the Council suggests that that
is where the real interest lies.
That is one possibility. The other possibility is that a bunch of
professors prefer to discuss the question rather than answer it.
And the meta-questions are very interesting, but if we constituted
ourselves as a body that had to, on balance, having heard the arguments,
or consulted our intuitions, or thought about this, come to some
judgment on balance what to think about reproductive cloning—
I mean, maybe you are right, Michael. Maybe everybody in the room
has already decided that reproductive cloning, who needs it? Let's
talk about the other things. But if that is the case, we should
Well, is there any really important good that anybody thinks would
be advanced by reproductive cloning? If not, let's get on to the
objections, and why they are interesting, and what the consequences,
which objection matters, what has for these other things. What is
the human good that is advanced, does anybody think, by reproductive
cloning? What is at stake? Even in the public debate, nobody really
thinks it is terribly important.
Leon, it is the good of freedom. I mean, I am not an advocate or
anything, but that is the good that people get. The particular—
Yes, but that begs the question. Freedom for the sake of what end?
What worthy end?
Well, you do not find, and I do not myself find that the particular
examples of the kind of use of that freedom given there is reasons
why people might want to do it. It is not terribly compelling. I
do not disagree with you on that, but that does not alter the fact
that if you are going to interfere with someone's freedom, you need
a compelling reason. That is the good that is at stake.
In a free society, the burden of proof is on those who want to stop
it. So, you do not have to have a good argument to clone; you have
got to have a good argument to say why you should not.
Bill, then Frank, and Stephen. Bill, Stephen, and Frank. Excuse
I want to take up these two comments. I do not know a single scien—
Well, I know one, actually. I only know one scientist who is even
remotely in favor of reproductive cloning. I think on a policy level,
reproductive cloning, at least for the foreseeable future is not
an issue. But to me, we are losing (and this is affirming what you
said) a very good opportunity to do something at the foundation
of our process, on the launching pad of this whole endeavor, to
think about how we do ethics.
If I look back at our working paper, on page 2 it speaks of giving
a "new form to human procreation" at the bottom of page
2. And then it says, "In their desire to empower human will,
they seek to break the mold of natural human limitation-and we must
think of where a new standard of human behavior and dignity might
Well, as a physician, I was trained that medicine was to cure disease,
and alleviate suffering, and I remember Galen said, "The physician
is only nature's assistant." So, I tend to look at the natural
world, and I see it, as I tried to say yesterday, somehow not just
creating freedom, but a context of constraint to that freedom that
gives us some meaningful life. In other words, if you think of freedom
as a biologically produced capacity, with both earthly, and perhaps
transcendent significance, it has to be understood in a natural
context. That natural context has been constraint, as well as open
possibility historically. Now, our technology gives us new powers
over the limitations of nature, and so, we need to ask ourselves
if we move off of the frame which has formed us, and there is no
question in my mind anyway that our minds have been formed by the
realities of the natural world, then will we find a meaningful,
full flourishing of human life in the places we may enter?
The question below all this to me is how do we do ethics in the
opportunity for so much change to basic human reality? How do freedom
and flourishing, full flourishing, actually coordinate in an age
of biomedical technology? So, I think we should return to the fundamental
questions raised in this working paper as to why some of these efforts
toward reproductive cloning, however irrelevant it may be for establishing
actual laws right now— I think it is a done deal. I think we are
going to outlaw reproductive cloning, or at least put a long moratorium
on it. But it still would be very instructive to us as to how to
Stephen, and then Frank, I think is the way I had it.
Again, let me try to address myself to the right question this time.
Although in addressing that, part of my answer will explain why
(Inaudible.) addressed the wrong question, I think.
I think it is correct that it is very hard to identify reproductive
cloning as a good, and therefore, it is hard to defend it morally.
So, if it is simply a moral question, it is not so much the nays
are going to have it, but the nays are going to have more interesting
arguments. That is why Charles is right, and Gil is right, that
the good that has to be weighed is not the good of cloning, but
the good of freedom. And so, the moral question. The reason why
we slide over into the ban, therefore, is that if we are simply
talking at the level of morality, my moral objection to something
you are free to do may result simply in your turning your back,
and that is where we slide over into the ban. So, that is why the
burden of proof issue matters.
I do think, though, that if we want to stick with the arguments
in the paper, actually I disagree with Michael on which of the arguments
pro are the more powerful ones. I do agree that we can reject most
of them. For example, the fact that people want to do a thing does
not make it a good, does not change its moral status at all. The
fact that people want to do a thing really a lot does not change
it. The fact that people deeply desire and are wounded if they cannot
do it, does not affect its moral status. So, the fact that people
want it does not make it a good, nor does the fact that people will
do it anyway make it a good. Nor does the fact that people will
do it in another country make it a good. The moral aspect of a thing
as a good or not a good is not affected by people's desire for it,
and in most cases, except for some hormones, not by their need for
it, depending on how we define need, either.
So, it strikes me that the only arguments that need to be taken
seriously, I think, on the pro side are on page 4, argument g) which
we rather trashed yesterday, but nevertheless, I think is actually
an argument about a possible desirable good, because we could argue
that maybe having these individuals of great genius is a good, in
which case that would be a serious argument. But nobody thought
that yesterday, not many people thought that. Or h), if not for
the fact that most people seem to think that h) cuts the other way,
that it allows to prepare for the unpredictable nature of the future.
That is, you could imagine, for example, a future circumstance in
which there had been some disease that was ruinous to the gene pool,
and it turned out that only by cloning individuals could we reproduce
the race at a level that would allow the race to survive. You can
imagine situations like that. But there again, it is not the cloning
that is the good; the cloning is the tool that allows the good to
be done, if one takes that as an argument.
So, what about the negative arguments which are described as interesting?
They invite our attention to these larger issues, and so on, and
I suppose they do. But I have to confess that I do not find most
of them very compelling. Interesting, yes. Inviting our attention
to mystery, yes. But not very compelling, except really for one
that is kind of buried in one of the others, and that is, the question
of how reproductive cloning would affect our view of the human itself.
Not of the cloned human, not of that individual. This is not the
question we talked about yesterday, but whether our view of what
it means to be human is affected by the use of this technology,
which is a question we have confronted as a society in the past,
sometimes well, sometimes badly.
For example, in the time of Darwin, for example, this was one of
the arguments very fondly pressed against the widespread dissemination
of Darwin's theories, precisely that it would dramatically alter
our view of the human, and that was a true objection. That is, it
was a fact that it would, and it did, I think, alter our view of
the human. Now, the question was it altered for the better or worse
is not at issue; just that it altered it.
So, having said all that, that is why I think that in the end it
is the instinctive revulsion that people feel, that Mary Ann mentioned
earlier. The instinctive repugnance, I think, deserves an important
place in the moral debate. Not necessarily a decisive place, but
sometimes there are important moral questions that it is extraordinarily
difficult to reduce to argument. The enlightenment tradition teaches
that it is important to be able to reduce our repugnances to arguments,
but I often think that is a flaw in enlightenment tradition.
Thank you very much. I think it was you, Frank, next.
Could I just say one sentence, Leon? That I agree with you, Stephen,
about that the repugnance is the core of the objection. But unless
that repugnance is unpacked rationally, I think we will lose the
argument, because in a free society the compelling imperative of
freedom has to be counter-argued. If it is not—if you cannot produce
a rational argument beyond repugnance, freedom wins, I think. It
will win politically, and it will win, in a sense, intellectually.
So, I think we need to find ways to make that repugnance understandable,
transmittable, reproducible, by argument.
Frank, Mary Ann, and Paul.
One way of thinking about the moral question is what you might call
a kind of common law approach which is to look at analogous situations,
and you yourself mentioned this, Leon, earlier in the case of incest.
Because I think that actually of all the laws that we have on the
books, the one that the cloning battle would be the most comparable
to is the law prohibiting incest, which is a law that limits reproductive
freedom. Brothers and sisters cannot produce children. And thinking
through this, if we did not have incest laws and one came up before
Congress, I am not sure it would get passed these days. But it is
interesting sort of thinking why we have this law on the books,
and it may help us in thinking about the cloning matter.
Now, I think that, you know, the reason that we ban incest is a
combination of the yuk factor. I mean, people just instinctively
do not like it. There are various medical reasons about, you know,
you are more likely to transmit recessive genes, you know, on both
sides of the parents. But it is also similar to the cloning ban
in that there is probably not a lot of people that actually want
to commit incest.
But it does seem to me that if you thought about it, there are cases
you can imagine to yourself, sympathetic cases. Let's say brother
and sister came from a broken family; they grew up separately; they
met as adults, and it turned out that this was, you know, the one
exact, perfect match for them. And why should society in that case
prevent them from getting married? The medical issues could probably
be dealt with. You know, at this point you could probably screen
to make sure that they were not, you know, transmitting a terrible
So then you ask the question, well, is this really a rational law
that would prevent people in this compelling case from getting married
and having children? And I think what society has decided in the
case of the incest ban is— Well, actually, I do not know. I mean,
that is something I think that we ought to think about. I mean,
what are the reasons that we maintain this ban? Because I do not
think it is simply the kind of pragmatic medical one. I think it
is a combination of an instinctive, you know, dislike of the practice,
the idea. And I think most people would take seriously the public
argument that even if we allowed one brother/sister couple to produce
children, that that somehow, you know, would be a public act that
people would not like.
And the other thing that I think is important thinking through that
analogy is how you balance these different competing interests.
Michael, you said that you did not see any compelling interest in
favor of reproductive cloning. I have a friend that e-mails me constantly
because he wants to be able to clone, you know, his son. He wants
a back-up copy of his son in case his son gets killed. He gets horribly
indignant at the idea that anyone is going to restrict this, you
know, ability of his to create this back-up copy. You know, I have
run into quite a few people that are really, really extremely—
I mean, and they, you know— And you can come up with reasonably
sympathetic scenarios where it would be in someone's interest.
And I think, you know, in a way what we need to do is step back
and think about how you balance these various different kinds of
considerations. I do not think it is simply the case that even if
someone has a strong interest in doing something, that you simply
disregard that. I mean, in a certain way, enough strong interest,
you know, amounts to a moral claim at a certain level. But I do
think that the incest case does provide a certain precedent for
society taking a low-probability event, and balancing both pragmatic,
and you know, revulsion factor interests, and coming up with, you
know, a ban that receives a fairly broad consensus.
I think that was a warm-up for you, Mary Ann.
I think that the incest example is very helpful here. I wanted to
react to Charles's suggestion that we need to have rational arguments
to support an instinctive feeling that people may have.
I am going to publicly confess I do not have instinctive revulsion
about the idea. What I do have is a worry about unforeseen, unintended
consequences, what happens, and how do you put that worry into a
I think in the case of reproductive cloning, as with incest, one
might be able to come up with six different arguments that would
have a plausible claim to being called rational, but they would
not appear persuasive to every person who would sign up for one
of the six. So, on the one side, the side against any ban, you have
arguments that boil down, essentially, to one widely shared argument,
the one you mentioned before, the argument for freedom from government
regulation. That is easy. And the problem on the other side of the
case is not that the arguments are not rational, but they will not
be recognized as persuasive by everybody in the group, and I think
that is true of incest.
St. Augustine was against incest because he thought it was natural
to love people closely related to you more than you loved strangers,
so that in order to spread the love around, you really had to have
I mean, you cannot concentrate it all in a selfish way. That might
be persuasive to some people. It is rational. It is not an irrational
argument. But not everybody who opposes incest would oppose it for
So, maybe I will come back to the idea that in a democratic society,
where many people share a common position but for different reasons,
the way we decide that is by voting.
Paul. Do you want to comment on this, Jim, or—?
Could I just make one point on that? Could I just make a one sentence
response? That it is remarkable that in the Congress, the vote was
unanimous against the reproductive. Not a single member of Congress.
So, it means that you may have six reasons, each of which has a
constituency of 70, which add them all up, and you get— But it
is amazing to me that you cannot find a single person in the House
who will not oppose a ban on reproductive cloning. It means that—
I would infer there is a revulsion deep underneath it which would
explain that incredible— If it was just lining up the rational
arguments, you would expect a few people out there who would be
on the other side, and there are none.
Paul McHugh, and then Jim.
As Frank said yesterday, sometimes you are always anticipated if
you just wait long enough. And the argument though, I want to continue
on this line, that is, that we should be looking for rational reasons
to explain our revulsion of these behaviors, which would be the
social behavior of reproductive cloning.
And by the way, it is not hard to find other examples in which we
were not completely persuasive for everybody, but ultimately began
to see reasons for controlling behavior, and stopping behavior.
The obvious one, of course, is slavery in which we eventually had
to see how corrupting it was to every sense of humankind.
But you know, we also argued the case against polygamy very powerfully,
and we, I believe most of us, argue strongly against prostitution.
Now, there are plenty of people in the world, I do not know "plenty",
but there are enough people in the world that think polygamy might
not be a bad idea, particularly if they are men, and similarly,
about prostitution. Yet in all of them, coming back to what Rebecca
said, the argument against all of those was the issue of the use
of power over the weak. And I submit that reproductive cloning is
repulsive, and primarily repulsive because our imaginations see
us as using power over the weak, that is the child that will ultimately
be produced for our purposes as an idea of ours, rather than from
Yes. I largely agree with what Paul said. I want to expand a bit
on the incest argument, because I think it is related to what he
Incest is universally condemned by all cultures in the world. I
do recall one poll that showed that 21 percent of New Yorkers were
in favor of it, but there is no other part of the world where this
can be found.
Incest has been tested in the kibbutzim of Israel. You have boys
and girls growing up without parents. They dress the same, they
play together, they take showers together, and by the time they
reach the age of puberty, they start to withdraw from each other,
and they do not get married. And so, one of the problems with sustaining
the kibbutzim is they are not getting married there. I think this
natural revulsion is reinforced by law. But if it is so natural,
why a law? And why not have an exception, as Frank indicated, for
the unusual case?
I think the reason we have the law is that there are some people
who will try to violate the incest, and in the United States of
America, that happens to be the fathers of attractive, young daughters.
All of the cases of incest, the predominant number of incest cases
we have, are fathers exploiting in a sexual way their daughters,
and that is a number that can grow. And so, instead of saying we
will let the judges dec— We reject the idea of having no law, because
this group exists, and instead of saying the judges have the right
to expand the law in suitable cases, a testimony to the faith and
farseeing-ness of judges that I do not happen to share, we simply
say since there is a risk here, we are going to enforce the law
as a way of protecting vulnerable people.
And as Paul said, there is another group of vulnerable people here,
children who are being raised to be models, copies, of some other
thing without really having a chance to vote on it. So, the incest
example that has been raised is, I think, very important. You can,
in principle, think of an exception to it, as Frank has done. But
I think when you reflect upon creating a system that would recognize
the exception without undergirding its deterrent effect, the argument
Dan, Elizabeth, and Robby. We have a long queue. Let me write this
down. Dan, Elizabeth—
I have listened with great interest to the discussion yesterday
and today. I have to say that some of the discussion yesterday about
the meaning of procreation after sexual intercourse as having powerful
ethical and moral issues was one that I did not resonate with. I
understand the sacred nature of it, and I understand that one as
a matter of religious faith may believe that that is true. I think
the great mystery is here about the issues of life itself.
I do not know whether the moment that the sperm joins the egg, that
life is created. I do not know whether that is pre-life, or life.
I had many discussions with the late Jesuit moral theologian Richard
McCormick about this, and he himself was unsure. Most embryos, as
you know, die before, spontaneously, before they are ever born.
So, I think some of these things are vested in mystery. We may proclaim
with enthusiasm that this is life, but I thought that Michael's
argument about the neurons and so forth— Is potential life the
same thing as life? I do not know.
So, my concerns were not so much about the moral and ethical issues
of the way in which a child was formed as the question, the critical
question before us, about a clonal reproduction. My predominant
objections at the moment precede the moral issues that are involved,
although I know that Leon really wants to discuss this. He noted
that the climate for moral discussion is more rich now than it has
I am vastly more concerned about the issues of safety, as Rebecca
is. I think it is going to be a very long time. I think this is
an incredibly risky procedure now, but it might not stay that way
forever. But for now, that argument alone would be sufficient for
me to say that I would want to ban this. There are not enough studies
that have been done. I am not saying ban. I mean, to not make it—
We are going to talk about that later.
The second thing I want to say is, that I think one should not ignore
intuitive public opinion, the common morality, which I know there
is a problem there. The problem with the Beecham-Childress model
of bioethics is that it is based on a moral viewpoint that does
not hold in, let's say Vietnam, or whatever. It is a way of thinking,
and the principle is not what Rebecca talked about, but it does
not solve specific moral problems, or that it emphasizes autonomy
and non-malevolence out of things.
But I read a book one time that I thought was not a very good book,
but there is an important point in it that the late C.S. Lewis said.
He said that two people are getting on a bus. One is an old lady
who is crippled, and one is a young, healthy person, and there is
one seat in the back of the bus, and the young person jumps on the
bus, and goes and takes the seat. And everybody on the bus says,
"That's not fair. Get up and give her the seat." And the
question is, why? Because there was an intuitive sense that the—
I mean, the law of the survival of the fittest, that was perfectly
right for him to do. But there was a sense that there was something
wrong about that.
Now, as far as I— Unless somebody corrects me, I believe that Germany
has completely forbidden the progression here. We have the document
about California here. We have all sorts of polls. I mean, there
is sort of an intuitive sense, as has been mentioned here, that
this is not the right time to do this. It does not mean that there
might never be a time that you could do—
I think one could argue, as Stephen said, if there were a bioterrorism,
or a vast nuclear war, it might be worthwhile to have some clones
available to do something. I mean, we did not destroy all the smallpox
virus in the world, and that turns out now to be a wise decision
so you can make some vaccine for bioterrorism. So, I think there
are conceivable situations.
The follow-up to that might be that there are certain circumstances
which might be restricted morally or legally where the cloning might
be a good thing in an individual case, where you could completely
ban manufactures of armies, let's say, if somebody wants to make
a super-race as Charles said, and so forth, that you could ban and
So, I would think that another healthy thing would be to say that
what we decide here is now, and may have implications for the future,
but it does not have to be fixed in stone. If we make a wrong decision,
and other things come along that change it, either morally or ethically,
you can change that.
Finally, I think there is a danger here of what I think Erik Erikson
calls "pseudo-speciation", and what he meant by was for
humans, or a group of humans, to project out onto all humankind
that they were like the humans that were thinking. In other words,
so that an American professor sitting here tends to think about
how one looks at the world and people in the light of their own
understanding of what are big issues.
William James once said that serious questions— I am speaking to
this issue of arguing in terms of freedom or non-freedom, or restriction
of freedom. William James said that serious questions have three
components. They have to be momentous, not trivial, and they had
to be forced, not optional. Everybody had to decide on them. And
there were then lively options. I mean, we can clone, or we can
not clone. There is a lively option here. It is a momentous question.
But I do not think that the public, at least the sort of people
that I deal with every day, are really interested in an ethical
discussion of freedom and restrictions of freedom. I think they
are going to decide this on much more practical and pragmatic grounds,
that you can say this is not safe now, or it might be dangerous
along these things. I think if you cast this argument in some sort
of ethical and philosophical way, it is not going to resonate with
the mass of the people that we are here to represent.
So, those are random and unlinked points, but that is where I stand
about it. I think that this group has— I mean, we have a danger.
I think one of the things that people always worry about is certain
religious groups are so sure they know every truth, like when the
world is going to end and everything else. We have to be sure that
we do not act like we know all the truth about what life is, and
when it begins, and all those things as well.
Thank you. One tiny thing. I would not say the question of safety
is a non-moral question. The question of safety is a fact, but it
translates into a serious moral concern of not doing harm. I was
coming to your aid.
Mr. Chairman, my wife tells me I need aid all the time, and I appreciate
you trying to help me out. I do not believe that I said that safety
was not a moral issue. I think it is a high moral issue. If I misspoke,
then a synapse went wrong. I need to see Michael, and tell me that
I better get a PET scan or something like that.
Elizabeth. Yes, it is Elizabeth, please.
I had actually been prepared to take up that safety issue, too,
and particularly in light of what is on page 5 of the Working
Paper 3 at the very bottom of the page. And I think because
safety— We have to look at evidence in terms of safety. And then,
the next line says— Let me read you what it said in terms of—this
was an argument pro the safety of human cloning, or about it. "Safety
is possible without requiring overly reckless experimentation:"
And I think Dan's point is that, you know, at this point in our
history that is far from being the case. And then it said, "Parallel
That, to me, is perhaps a dangerous thing to put here, because IVF
really does involve sperm and egg, and the proper imprinted genomes
that can function. Cloning involves the issue of, you know, potentially
non-functional genomes. And so, what I am saying is that if somebody
looked at this argument, they would say, "Oh, well, there is
a parallel with IVF because safety is possible." And I would
say we are a very long way away in practical terms from that being
the case. And so, this—
Yes, I think I can explain the meaning of your point. I think I
agree with you completely. I think the point is that people have
argued publicly, look, IVF before it was tried, people were saying
(I was one of them) this is a hazardous potential experiment on
a newborn child. We were playing dice with new life. It turns out,
the procedure is very safe. Nobody knew that in advance. And I think
that people have said how do you know that cloning is not like that?
Well, we have lots of evidence, I think, to suggest that cloning
is not like that, and that evidence is very important to this discussion.
But this is the way some people have been talking in the public
realm. That is why I think it is put there.
Elizabeth, do you want to respond?
No, no. I agree. I was just saying that as written here, we are
having to unpack rational arguments, and if someone looked at this
argument, I think that this would be not based on really, you know,
good available evidence.
I have— Have I lost a page? I think it was Robby next, yes?
Leon, I think Michael wanted to get in just on this point. Could
he go ahead of me?
Well, just quickly, to go back to Charles' point. There could be
a long list of safety reasons spelled out as to why this is a bad
idea. Cloning has been going on a long time with corn, and they
have made genetically identical corn, and the agriculturalists were
very happy with this. Then they planted it, and the entire corn
crop would be wiped out because there was no genetic diversity when
a new organism came in that would attack that particular piece of
corn. So, cloning has been basically abandoned as an idea in agriculture,
because it shut down genetic diversity.
And one can see this is a big problem in the cloning of animals
if you read the papers carefully, and get to the back of the papers.
So, the whole reason why we have bisexual reproduction is to create
the genetic diversity that allows you to defeat bacterial challenges
to the organism. So, one could go down quite a rational list as
to why this— Seven reasons why cloning looks like a good idea sort
of comes from The X-Files, and does not really come from scientists
who have thought about this a lot.
are at ten o'clock, time for a break. I am going to run over a few
more minutes here; we will take a little bit longer break, because
I have a list of Robby, Rebecca— Oh, my goodness. Robby, Rebecca,
Stephen, Michael. You cannot all speak in five minutes. Be succincter
than usual and maybe get most of them in, and we will start the
next session with whoever is left over. Robby.
Thanks, Leon. At the appropriate time, which is not now, I would
like to go back to Michael's argument about brain-death. It is an
argument that has been floated and developed in some detail by the
Oxford philosopher Michael Lockwood, and rebuttals have been offered
by John Finnis and Patrick Lee, and I have offered one myself, and
I think it is a question very much worth debating, as I say, at
the appropriate time. It also might be possible for the staff to
distribute the published versions of these debates. I do not know
if Michael has written himself on it, but these other people have,
and it might be a good thing to distribute among us. It is a very
I want to say a word on behalf of reproductive cloning, not because
I believe in it. I do not. But I do believe in meeting the best
argument for the other side, and giving it its full due. And it
seems to me not to give it its full due to frame it in terms of
freedom, although I acknowledge that even people who do have the
pro reproductive cloning view do appeal to freedom. I think they
appeal to it because it is very powerful as rhetoric in our particular
political culture. But I think behind it is something more powerful,
and that is the idea that the children—whether to have a child,
and whether to have this child rather than that child, or a child
with this set of attributes rather than those, these rather than
those, profoundly affects the shape of one's own life.
When people argue for reproductive freedom, it is not simply an
argument for the value of the exercise of the freedom. These arguments
which I constantly contend against, these arguments are arguments
for having a certain sort of course of life in my one and only future,
as they suppose. And to have a child is going to profoundly affect
the way my life goes. And to have a retarded child is going to very
profoundly affect the way it goes. To have a really intelligent,
Harvard-bound child profoundly affects the way my life will go,
and darn it, I want my life to go in a certain direction, and that
is not unreasonable, the argument goes. It is not unreasonable for
me to want that. That is not an unreasonable want, and that is something
that other people should respect, not only by way of stepping away
from any kind of legal ban or prohibition, but even stepping away
from any kind of moral judgment. It is just not appropriate to cast
moral judgment on my judgment of how my life should go. And when
one acknowledges that whether to have a child, or what kind of child
to have, shapes that in a fundamental way, then it is wrong to cast
a judgment, even in that direction. As I say, it is not an argument
that I accept, but I think that is the argument that has got to
be engaged, rather than just an abstract claim to freedom. And it
is an argument which I think several of the arguments that the staff
has so helpfully canvassed here on page 3 sort of gesture toward.
It is the pursuit of happiness in which you are so interested.
The pursuit of happiness, yes. Happiness now being the idea that
I want my life to go a certain way.
Is not that a way of saying I want it because I want it? Well, now
you are making my argument. I mean, this I think is the argument—
Charles, let's go in a queue. Rebecca, please.
Four brief points. I think we do need to do more than just dismiss
the arguments in favor of reproductive cloning with the goal of
speaking to as many people as possible. I think we need to explain
why if we agree that these are not persuasive reasons, we need to
do more than say, well, those are not important.
Second, I guess I take a little bit of exception with Mary Ann in
that I do think there is a shared language in which we speak of
limits on freedom, and that is, if freedom harms others. And then,
certainly in criminal law is all about restricting people's freedom
because it harms others in various ways. I do not think a lot of
criminal law is all that controversial.
So then, the question here becomes, well, what kind of harm are
we talking about, what is the probability of harm, is it an important
enough harm, and is it likely enough that many people could agree
that freedom should be limited. And so here, I think the focus would
be on what is it— The harm of being a genetic copy, or nearly a
genetic copy, how is that different from other kinds of harm that
we can imagine visited on children had in the normal way, or any
kind of assisted reproduction that is somehow not as bad, and therefore
we do not interfere with people's freedom to use those techniques?
I had thought of polygamy and incest as other analogous cases, but
I think we also want to think about cases that may not get the same
kind of support. And at one point in our history, interracial marriage
many people, probably if you had a vote, the majority of people
would say, "Oh, that is repugnant. We do not want to permit
that." So, I think it is very important to test these intuitions,
and come up with more than just a repugnance.
That is all I want to say. Thanks.
Okay. Stephen, and then Michael.
Thank you. I have a couple of brief points. I want to say a word
about the mystery that we have spoken of a couple of times, and
I also want to ask the Chair a question.
In terms of the mystery, the instinctive revulsion, and things of
that nature. It does strike me that sometimes there are arguments
that lose a lot in translation into the ordinary language of academic
discourse, say. I think of Martin Luther King's advocacy in the
civil rights movement, for example, which is often incorrectly described
by historians who have read very little of it as thought it was
sort of a secular, public, political campaign. Actually, it was
a public ministry of one sermon after another spoken in explicitly
religious terms with constant reference to the Creator or to God
with occasional throwaway lines about one secular argument or another,
but there were few of those. And I think this helps account for
the success of the ministry, that these were arguments that resonated
with a lot of people precisely because they appealed to a part of
the human conscience that often cannot be reached, at least not
successfully, or not reached passionately, if we restrict ourselves
to the arguments that might be cast in the terms of ordinary rationality.
I really do believe, and I think that King believed correctly, that
there is a place in the human heart where sometimes if that place
can be touched, without further argument we simply know right from
Now, one of the virtues of rationality on the other hand is it helps
us sometimes sort out those instincts. That is, I do not think the
fact that we cannot point to a rational argument to defend an instinct
suggests that it is a bad instinct. I do think that sometimes rational
argument can undo a bad instinct, so that if you take the case,
for example, of, say, the bans on miscegenation, it may be the case
that those bans which were instinctively felt, and very powerfully
defended for a very long time, that those bans were probably undone
as much with rational argument as with an appeal to passion, although
it was a rational argument about passion; it was a rational argument
about something that people could readily identify with as another
deeply held instinct about men and women freely choosing whom to
love and whom to marry.
Now, the reason I make this point about instinct is that I think
that for a lot of people, the opposition that they feel to reproductive
cloning, and here following Dan's advice, I am thinking about a
lot of people who are not present at the table, and a lot of the
reason, Charles, that you find this unanimity in Congress is not
really because there are six rational arguments, and people are
choosing up among them. I think a lot of it is some deeply held
instinct. I am not suggesting the Council is bound by that instinct,
or that it ought to control us, only that we ought not dismiss it,
and that, in fact, it is something that we should consider very
importantly as we consider questions both of morality and policy,
without regard to whether we think we can fully explain it or even
Michael, then Bill.
Just a quick word about the freedom argument. In this discussion,
it has fallen into the unlikely hands of Gil and Charles and Robby,
otherwise capable hands.
All friends of freedom, I might add.
And we have run together the moral and the regulatory issues. Insofar
as the freedom argument is a plausible argument in connection with
cloning, it is a plausible argument against banning cloning. But
it is not a plausible argument for the morality of cloning. That
is the point I meant to make before. Nobody trying to decide whether
making a baby by cloning is morally desirable would be helped one
way or the other by being told that he is free to choose either
way. That is all I meant.
Picking up on what Stephen said, and returning to the issue of incest
as an example of how a kind of natural morality emerges from a given
biological structure of human reality. Obviously, it seems at least
to me, obviously morality is in our minds and hearts and spirits
because it is in the service of life. At least that seems like a
good biological assumption, whatever other approach you want to
take. It seems to me that when we speak of moral disgust, as I said
yesterday, disgust seems related somehow to gustation, the concept
of spitting out something that is poisonous. It obviously is in
the service of safety. So, repugnance is deep in our minds. It is
deeper in some sense, or as deep, as any reason we can come up with.
So, if we try to look at the relationship, just now looking evolutionarily
at the origins of spiritual, religious, and moral awareness, we
would perhaps give greater weight to those things which we cannot
fully articulate. Repugnance, or the so-called yuk factor, is objected
to as a basis of moral thinking by some people, but those same people
usually favor the parallel sub-rational reaction of compassion.
The point is that something informs us deeply by the structures
of our mind, and the circumstance we live in.
Now, to an example of that. Incest is a very interesting subject
with regard to moral awareness. It happens that one of the great
authorities on incest is in the program in human biology I teach
in. Arthur Wolfe(?) has written extensively on this. So, how does
incest work? It turns out, at least according to him, and he is
pretty well accepted, I think, it turns out that if you take a situation
like the kibbutz which was referenced earlier as a situation in
which incest almost works inappropriately in making people not willing
to marry people who are not genetically related to them. You understand,
they grow up together, and then they do not want to marry.
Well, it turns out that in China there is something called minor
marriage, where the bride is selected for the husband-to-be when
they are about two years old, and they grow up together like brother
and sister. It turns out that their marriages do not work out well,
because they have grown up in a context where they are not attracted
to each other. For some reason, there is not the mystery that flows,
that is essential for normal sexual relationships to be compelling,
at least. So, here the structure of natural life informs moral impulse
in the service of the flourishing of life. A minor marriage shows
us how in a natural setting, your natural brother and sister would
not be attractive to you.
Now, there have been times in human history when incest was accepted
culturally. There was a time in Egypt when one-third of marriages
were between brothers and sisters. So, sometimes cultures do override
these things. But for the long view, something sub-rational maybe,
or a combination of rational/sub-rational seems to emerge.
Just one final point on this. Antonio DeMasio(?) has written extensively
on where does our reason come from. He speaks of hot cognition,
reason informed by emotion. He says the mind had to be first about
the body, or it could not be. He speaks of this hot cognition as
meaning we are embodied beings whose reason is not detached from
the meaning of our lives, from the sense of being a someone, from
having a sense of personal biography.
What I want to suggest is that the very structure of natural life
is what places that reality in its— It is such a hard problem,
because we know that nature is not perfect. We know that medicine
and human freedom has a role in what you might call healing, remediation,
hacuna lum(?), or whatever that phrase is in Hebrew, where the healing
of the world is part of our mandate of freedom. But if we move off
of the context of our natural flourishing, we are liable to lose
the grounding of our moral instincts.
Thank you. Look, we should take a break. I want to try to pull a
thread or two together on this subject, because we are going to
move explicitly to the policy question without interruption.
From here, I thought this was really a very rich discussion, and
lots of very, I think, relevant and interesting things were said,
including the resistance to taking up the topic directly, because
one learns something from that. If I am not misunderstanding the
sense of the discussion, there is some feeling that one ought not
to simply be dismissive of these other arguments in favor of reproductive
cloning, and that they ought to be taken seriously, and the best
case be made for them, but that we ought to have the responsibility
of addressing them and analyzing them, that there is not a lot of
enthusiasm around the room on moral grounds. I am not talking about
legal or policy grounds, however to say that even those exceptional
cases are fully somehow justified or override these other matters,
and with respect to how to present the case against reproductive
cloning insofar as we want to do that, we are exhorted not to simply
override or distrust this inarticulate, sub-rational, instinctive,
I do not know, intuitive sense, but that we do have some kind of
an obligation to try to articulate it as best we can, and that mindful
of the fact that at the end maybe it is as Charles says, there are
half a dozen reasons. In this field, you do not have syllogisms,
syllogistic proofs. You are only going to have plausible argumentation
in any case. Some of those arguments are going to appeal to some
people, some will appeal to others, but that we do ourselves a service
if we try to develop the best of those arguments as we can, at least
for ourselves, and to see how it goes further.
So, this is with a view to the next time we return to this topic.
I would like to ask people who have spoken to develop their thoughts
if they can, to submit them by e-mail, share them around. I think
I also hear implied in this that while we have had an initial kind
of presentation on the one hand, on the other it would be useful
sometime down the road to weave together these two papers in the
kind of way in which you have a kind of dialectic consideration
in which points made by one side are then addressed side by side,
so that we have a better chance of seeing where the argument turns
out. So that people will submit things on the points that they have
either made, or that on reflection they think are important that
no one has made, or that someone else has made badly, but that we
will strive to amend these papers, to develop them further so that
they will be the basis for the next discussion on the moral question
of reproductive cloning.
If there is anybody here who is an enthusiast for this, and has
been too shy, feeling that we have not provided a hospitable climate,
or if you think— What we also, I think, should do, if there is
not an exponent of reproductive cloning here, is to try to find
in the existing literature— We do not have to reinvent the wheel;
there are arguments out there. We will find that literature, we
will circulate it so that all of us are familiar with it.
Or maybe find Frank's friend.
Is that all right with respect to procedure on this? Let's take
until 10:30 and reconvene.
You said their e-mail address. Do we have that?
Oh, yes. The e-mail addresses will be waiting for you when you get
home, a full roster of everybody here with their addresses.
(Whereupon a brief recess was taken.)
SESSION 6: HUMAN CLONING 3: POLICY ISSUES
AND RESEARCH CLONING
All right. We come to the last of the cloning sessions, and the
last session before the public comment session, and this is a session
devoted to policy considerations. Again, the working paper has been
prepared not because it represents any even tentative view of this
Council, but to stimulate discussion.
There are lots of policy options for any of the matters that might
come to our attention, and it would be very nice if one could have
a de novo discussion of it. But once one embarked on the discussion
of cloning, we discover that we do not start de novo, but we start
in a world in which the policy discussion has been framed for us
by legislative options. And it would be irresponsible of us to pretend
that that was not the case, and therefore, in this case, even if
this might be the unique case, we come at the policy questions in
the light of the question of legislation. I think Frank Fukuyama
said yesterday, and I agree with him, legislative bans are if ever
useful, going to be rarely useful in these complicated areas. So,
this might be an exception, but here we are.
I would like to divide this session into two parts as the working
paper has divided it. First, to look at the major legislative alternatives,
and then, an initial discussion of research or therapeutic cloning,
some scientific, moral, and policy questions. On neither of these
topics, and we can say this with certainty in advance, are we going
to get very far today. This is meant really to— This whole meeting
on cloning has been meant to sort of lay the table, and to get the
parts of the discussion opened. Lots more work is going to have
to be done on all of this.
The relation between these two parts I would like to put my own
personal spin on, although others can dissent from it. The moral
and practical questions connected with research cloning are partly
connected to the question of reproductive cloning, primarily because
they come up in the context of legislative bans that have been proposed.
That is an unavoidable fact of life. But the moral questions connected
to cloning embryos for research are not that different from the
moral questions of creating embryos for research by IVF or some
other means. In other words, the ethical issues of the questions
about therapeutic cloning are not that different from the scientific
and medical issues, and ethical issues, connected with all embryo
research. And it is somewhat uncomfortable, I think, to have to
be thinking about the reproductive cloning question, and large questions
of embryo research at the same time, but there is a confluence of
the two subjects.
So, we will not shortchange that subject at all, but I regard the
major activity of this body to have been to take up the really novel
thing, which is this new proposal, new mode of human baby-making.
But we would be irresponsible to pretend that this other matter
is not central to the debate, and we will, therefore, try to do
it as responsibly as we can, though I hope that we do not have to
at great length take up all aspects of embryo research, but people
on the Council might think otherwise, and it may turn out to be
not feasible to do so. But you will see that the question of research
cloning comes up in the context of the policy considerations, rather
than as a separate matter.
Now, pertinent to this discussion, and I will start the policy discussion
in a moment, I repeat, the National Academy of Sciences report is
out, and so is the report from California, and I will see to it
that we all have these materials within the week. And I think we
will want to have people come to speak with us about that, and to
indicate, I think, their view of how the discussions of the research
cloning fit into the overall discussion that we are having here.
So, it may be that this preliminary place of putting it in the context
of policy may have to be amended, but the reason it is there I think
I have articulated.
All right. Part I, the legislative options, and the staff has laid
out, in fact, the three options: no ban, a partial ban on reproductive
only, and a ban on all cloning.
Mindful of the kinds of arguments that Stephen Carter made about
intruding government regulation, and especially legislative bans,
we have taken up and made, I think, a series of good points in favor
of a position which said there should be no legislative action whatsoever,
summarized on page 2 and 3. But as Charles has pointed out, everybody
in the House of Representatives was for some kind of ban or other,
and therefore, it seems that at least if we want to think in the
context in which we find ourselves, the real legislative alternatives
are the ban on clonal reproduction only which would prohibit the
attempt to initiate a pregnancy, or a ban on cloning in toto beginning
with the creation of the embryonic clones.
I do not think it is necessary to summarize the arguments here.
I mean, you may like some of them, or not like them, but I think
people have tried fairly, at least in this case, to state the positions
that have been heard on various sides, and I would simply like to
open the discussion with, I guess, one further comment.
As I see it, the gist of the arguments are one: whether if you are
seriously interested in stopping reproductive cloning, an attempt
to do just that would be sufficiently effective. There is the effectiveness
argument. There is on the other side an argument which says the
ban on all human cloning is too costly in terms of what it would
cost us in scientific and medical research. And the third point
would be the moral argument having to do with the question of creating
embryos solely for research, and with the added peculiarity in the
law in which it would become a federal offense not to destroy them.
That would be the novel wrinkle of the law which explicitly sanctioned
the creation of embryos for research, and then made it a crime to
implant them. I think those are the three major pieces of the discussion,
but other of you may have other points, and I think the floor should
just be open, and let it go where it will.
I am going to confront right away the idea that you said perhaps
in the last sentence or two. You said cloning for medical research.
I think that misses an essential point. What is the point of the
research? It is not for the self-indulgence of people who just like
to, you know, putter around lab benches. It is truly to relieve
human suffering. That really is the end goal of this, and I think
we should not leave that out of sight.
And I am actually concerned when I read the working paper. I am
concerned that I felt a bias in the writing. There was the quotes
"therapeutic" cloning. But there was never quotes around
other words. You know, I just want to raise that, because I know
you will say that, of course, these are only beginning working papers,
and I am glad to hear that. But I just wanted to say since you did
say today is about laying the table.
The table was laid with some silverware that, you know, I am a bit
concerned about, and that was the way this was written. So, I do
want to hear when we talk about medical research, I think we should
not uncouple it from its inextricable goal which is to try to relieve
Point not only well taken, but I think if it is in any way not made
explicit here, it should be understood.
I think to explain the quotes, by the way, the language has been
much convoluted, and much argued afore, and we have put— We did
not know what right name to call this, and we put reproductive cloning
in quotes, and we put research cloning in quotes, and I think the
glossary there has been an attempt to try to indicate that there
is a difficulty about the right language. The therapeutic intent
is perfectly laid out in the discussion of the research cloning
in that section, but I take your point completely.
Words carry freight with them, and research means something, I think,
which does not always imply what I think in this context is very
important to keep in mind, what is the research's goal. That was
all I wanted to do.
I mean, it has been very puzzling, Elizabeth, that at the very beginning
of these debates in Congress, the proponents of therapeutic cloning,
we will call it, were very eager to have the word "therapeutic"
cloning used. But now many of those people have retracted from that
term because they like the presence of the term "cloning"
less than they like the benefit that is gained from calling it "therapeutic".
And we need, I think, to sort this out amongst ourselves. But let
me not belabor it. I take your point completely.
Where were we? Jim, Robby—
I need help from the scientists here, because I am uninitiated with
respect to what we now choose for the moment to call therapeutic
cloning. On page 3 it says a ban on clonal reproduction only would
begin with a ban on an attempt to start a pregnancy by banning the
transfer to a woman's uterus of a cloned human embryo. And it suggests
that therapeutic cloning, or whichever you wish to call it, can
be done entirely in a petri dish. That is to say that a woman's
uterus is nowhere necessary. It also leaves the question open—
And is that true? I want to make sure I understand the facts. Secondly,
how long does the fertilized egg have to grow before it can produce
cells useful in therapy? Or do we know the answer to the question?
We know the answer to that. They grow to the blastocyst stage, at
least with respect to the stem cell kind of research that people
want to do. It grows to the blastocyst stage, a couple of hundred
cells, age about four to five days.
It would be nice to have these things recorded here, because those
I am sorry. I am not quite sure what the question is.
Oh, I was hoping Bill could say something addressing the issue—
—how long a fertilized egg has to grow before it becomes useful
for therapeutic or regenerative purposes.
Just what Leon said, the blastocyst stage. They take the inner cell
mass, which is the part that will become the embryo, and that forms
around four to five days. It is usually put into the woman's womb
five to six days, and implants approximately six days in humans.
Much later, by the way, in cattle, which is why some of the studies
done with cattle do not parallel with the stage in humans.
But it is transferred into a woman's womb, uterus?
It does not need to be.
Does not need to be. But it could be under some circumstances.
But it is not.
I think it is important just to clarify that, in fact, if you are
talking about using this for medical purposes, you would not put
it in the womb, because you would never be sure you could get it
back out, or what had happened to it in the meantime. So, in fact,
you would never do that.
Robby, I guess. Yes?
Elizabeth and I share the same underlying concern, but we draw different
conclusions from it, and therefore, read the documents differently.
Both of us, I think, are concerned that language not be used, or
definitions not be manipulated in order to win a debate, so that
I see the quotation marks around words that I would prefer not to
use, because I think they prejudice the debate against what I think
to be the truth of the matter, and I am reassured. Elizabeth sees
the quotation marks, and she is the opposite of reassured, because
she sees the quotation marks as themselves indicating a prejudice
against a term which she thinks is appropriate.
So, we are a little bit, I think, at loggerheads about what follows,
how the staff should be instructed to write, precisely in order
to achieve the goal that you, Leon, and Elizabeth and I have in
common, and I am sure everybody would share it, of making sure that
you get a fair representation of competing points of view without
the definitions or language prejudicing it.
We will work at it, and we will do the best we can, and if we do
not do it right, you will tell us.
I am going to exhort the group to take up the question on the agenda,
which are the legislative options. Charles, is that you?
Well, let me just engage the issue directly. I think there are two
main arguments for the full ban on cloning which would include both
reproductive and research or therapeutic. The first is, and I think
it is outlined in the paper, it is hard to imagine that if you allowed
this to happen, if you allowed it, what would become an industry
of cloned embryo creation, that you would not result within a fairly
short period of time, I would guess, in implantation. It would be,
of course, banned, but it is hard to imagine that with hundreds,
thousands, of embryos floating around, with all that interest, that
you would not have one implanted in a woman which would present
us with that extraordinary dilemma that under law that embryo, that
fetus, would have to be destroyed, which of course, none of us would
want to contemplate.
So, I think the path from therapeutic to reproductive is clear,
and I think it is inevitable. There is a principle in Jewish jurisprudence
called the fence. Siag(?) is the word. You make a fence around the
Torah. You protect yourself from sinning by expanding the bounds
of what constitutes a sin. For example, you are not allowed to engage
in commerce on the Sabbath, but the rabbis expand that so that you
cannot handle or touch money, knowing that if you handle or touch
it, you will inevitably find yourself in a position where you may
end up engaging in commerce. So, you expand the boundaries of what
is impermissible as a way to protect yourself against committing
the core sin.
The core sin here, which I think all of us would agree on, is that
reproductive cloning is wrong, ought not happen. And I would argue
that the way to build a fence around it is to not permit the creation
of an industry of embryos. That is argument number one.
The second is not an argument about the contingency, or how it might
expand, but an argument about what happens when you allow the creation
of cloned human embryos for their destruction. And here I would
like to, if I could take a second, to talk about the history of
the argument about stem cells. In the original debate about stem
cells which led to the President's speech, you found a fairly wide
consensus that we ought to allow this research because of the benefits
that would happen, and that we might permit the use of the discarded
embryos from IVF clinics because they were doomed to be destroyed
anyway. However, and the argument I think here was fairly consensual,
we would not want to countenance the creation of embryos to be destroyed
and essentially mined for the purposes of creating stem cells. And
we were assured by the advocates of stem cell research that we would
only be using discarded embryos. It was a sort of morally reasonable
argument: if the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway, let's
use them. I think a lot of us who supported the stem cell research
proposals agreed with that, but were afraid we might actually be
on a slippery slope.
Well, here we are on the slippery slope. If we countenance the creation
of cloned human embryos for the sole purpose of their exploitation
and destruction, we are entering a whole new era of the commodification
of the human embryo, of its exploitation, and its use as a commodity
and as a thing. And I think that is extremely dangerous. It does
not require that one believe that life begins at creation. I think
as Michael Sandel said yesterday, it is not an on and off proposition.
Personhood either is or is not at the moment of zygote creation,
or in this case with the beginning of the cloning process. You do
not have to believe that the original cell is imbued with a soul
or with personhood to believe that its exploitation and destruction
starts us on a very dangerous and destructive path of exploitation
of our own species.
So, I think those are the two arguments, and I think that that might
be a basis for the start of a discussion of the ban.
That is very useful, I think, as a way of starting the discussion.
Someone want to respond directly to Charles?
I have a question.
Charles, or other people here with scientific knowledge that I do
not have. Are discarded cells, fertilized cells, embryos, that are
the result of in vitro fertilization, sufficient in number and quantity
to support all present and likely future forms of research?
The answer, I think, is yes. I think that is undisputed.
It is a huge number. I mean, we do not know how large it is, but
a fraction of that would support present research for perhaps half
a decade or more.
Do others have other views?
We have a couple of— Janet, or Elizabeth, or Bill? Janet, would
you want to comment?
Well, I cannot speak with any certainty about the number that we
have. As you may be aware, at the time of the President's proclamation,
if you will, in August, it became apparent that there were potentially
60 embryonic cell lines. That is not embryos, but lines that had
been derived from embryonic stem cells. The concern at that point
was that most of them had not been well characterized, so we did
not know, for instance, were they chromosomally normal, or were
they aneuploid, and this is a critical issue if you are trying to
do research. We did not know many of the other characteristics,
and the concern is that as studies proceed, there may well be need
for even some known genetic variants with defined mutations that
would allow you then to do further studies on the response of these
mutant cells to various therapies which would inform you as to how
better to treat patients, so that I think that the comment I made
yesterday, which is we are asked to make judgments about matters
that we do not have the basic knowledge required to make any informed
decision. This is the problem that we face.
But Janet, Jim was asking not whether existing stem cell lines were
enough to support research.
Or are there enough embryos. I do not know. How many embryos are
He was asking whether discarded embryos would be enough to support
Exactly. Do you know how many? I have no idea how many there are
that are available for use. Some of these are covered by various
forms of consents of the donors which may preclude their use. I
do not know that figure.
Bill, on the facts?
The figure estimated is there are a million embryos in frozen storage
now. But the fact is that you can only derive stem cell lines from
those which have been already developed to the blastocyst stage.
That is generally thought. That is a lot smaller number. Who knows?
Maybe a hundred thousand. Those have only been done in the last
two years. And the fact is that even when you try to do this, deriving
stem cell lines is very difficult to do.
Look, there are many good, scientific reasons to do therapeutic
cloning. Let's not fake ourselves out about that. The argument is
whether it is morally good to do. That is another question. But
I do not think we should preempt the question by saying, oh, we
have got enough, we can go— Well, maybe that is a practical matter,
but it is not a very good scientific approach.
DR. : But are
not 100,000 enough?
The problem is—
How many do you need?
You could do a lot of science with specifically produced types of
cell lines. For example, one of the big efforts now in advanced
cell technology is to clone specific individuals so that you could
do studies with those cells back into the same individual for immune
reasons. That might not be necessary, but it is at least— If you
are going to talk science without moral constraints, you would probably
be scientifically more open to not restraining anything. But we
restrain all sorts of things in science, so let's not preempt that
We have to try to be clear about a number of distinctions that are
operating in this area. One is the distinction between the extracted
stem cell lines for which there is now federal funding. Then there
is the question about the number, usefulness, availability of other
spare embryos from which lines can be, are being, developed in the
private sector and can be used there.
But we have here to consider the question about the cloned human
embryos, and the special benefits from doing research possibly on
embryos created by somatic cell nuclear transplantation or cloning.
And there are arguments that have been advanced that suggest that
no matter how many spare embryo lines there are, there are added
benefits from doing the research on these kinds of embryos. And
that is why the arguments for therapeutic cloning, or research cloning,
are independent, are in addition to the arguments for stem cell
research, and we are going to have to try to— These are related
questions, but in our context of talking about cloning, we should
think especially about the question of (I cannot help but use the
quotation marks, Elizabeth. I will try to fix it.) therapeutic research
Someone was going to— It was a request for information. I would
like someone now to respond, if they are ready to. Charles, at least,
has staked out a position and made two kinds of arguments as to
why he thinks that a complete ban would be the more desirable.
Could I begin by asking them a question now that I know one more
fact than I knew ten minutes ago?
Charles, you said, if my notes are correct, that we should not countenance
creating cells that would die.
Creating embryos, he said.
Creating embryos, embryos.
Well, how does that differ from creating through in vitro fertilization
embryos that will die?
There are two distinctions. The first is that in IVF, you are not
creating them with the specific intent to kill them. You create
a number, you find the ones that work, and you do not use the others.
It is in a sense a side effect. It is as if you had IVF where you
never implant a single embryo. The analogy to cloning is IVF where
you implant the (Inaudible.) and you destroy them all. I think that
is morally different from what happens.
How is it morally different?
Because your intent is to create a life, and as a result, you have
a side effect in which some end up being discarded, and I think
that is different from creating all of these embryos with the express
intent of simply destroying and exploiting all of them.
I have Stephen, Michael, and Gil. And Paul.
Just a small point, partly in response to what Charles said. I think
that what Janet and Bill have said needs to be taken seriously for
the following reason. On the question we discussed in the previous
session about the morality of the practice, it is not clear to me
that a civil judgment whether it is right or wrong to do the cloning
is going to turn in an important way on the question of the availability
of alternatives. However, when it comes to the legislative process,
if one of the arguments in favor of allowing what some have called,
(let's put it that way, Robby), what some have called therapeutic
reproductive—therapeutic or regenerative cloning, if one of the
arguments in favor of that is the necessity for scientific research,
then from the point of view of whether there should be a ban or
not, it matters a great deal whether the necessity in fact is present.
Because if it is present, then the argument may count in the legislative
process. If it is not present, then there is the concern about is
there some other ultimate goal.
However, having said that, I just want to emphasize that one of
the problems that I think we will not be able to avoid in this debate,
and any debate about a scientific process, is that the future is
very, very hard to predict, and benefits and costs both of basic
research can be very, very hard to predict, and there have been
many times, historically, obviously, when we got surprising benefits
from research that was problematic on other grounds.
The only reason I mention that is that I think, again, we should
be very careful when we speak of the issue of a ban, or of building
a fence, to make sure that we really know to the best of our ability
what it is that we are fencing in, and what it is we are fencing
Charles invokes the doctrine of the double effect to reply to Jim,
and the difference he sees between using embryos created by IVF
is that those were created with the aim of reproduction. Tell me
if I have this right, Charles. They were created with the aim of
reproducing, and the discarded ones are leftovers. And it is morally
more permissible to use those, you say, than the others because
in the other case, the embryo is being created for the sake of the
research which will kill it. That is the moral difference.
But the doctrine of the double effect, which is just this idea that
if you are aiming at a worthy aim, it is possible to justify a morally
troubling side benefit. That doctrine of double effect could be
employed to save the thing that you are against because the people
who create embryos, whether through cloning, or through IVF, for
the sake— You could imagine people creating embryos through IVF
who wanted to contribute to scientific or therapeutic research,
and they would invoke the same doctrine of double effect, not implausibly,
to say our aim is not to create an embryo or a life for the sake
of destroying it. That is not the telos. Our aim is to create an
embryo that will give rise to stem cells that will cure some disease,
and we recognize it is very likely, maybe even certain, that an
unfortunate side effect which we regret is that it will die.
Now, you might say it is so likely that it is a certainty. Where
is the room for the double effect? But that is true of the IVF case,
too. So, as long as there are multiple embryos produced in IVF for
the sake of reproduction, the double effect is not any— There is
no more space, there is no more moral space, for double effect doctrine
to get going in that case than in the other case. So, I do not think
the double effect doctrine can save the one, and condemn the other.
Well, I do not want to monopolize this, but if I can—
Well, I think, first of all, in cloning, the effect is 100 percent.
There is no— It is not a side effect; it is the effect. The only
way to get the stem cell is to kill the cell.
But what gives the doctrine of the double effect its moral weight,
is that it puts the weight on the intention, not on the effect,
and that is the only reason it works in your other case, is not
it? Because is not there a certainty that with IVF you do not just
produce one embryo that you know will lead to a child? Is not there
a certainty there that you are going to have to produce some that
will be discarded?
I am not sure it is a certainty. It is certainly a high probability.
But the point I think that is important here is that what you engage
in is a kind of desensitization to the process of destruction, and
I think it seems to me that it is far more, desensitization is far
more certain, is far more powerfully affected when you are creating
for the sole purpose of destroying, exploiting, to help someone
else. In other words, it is purely nothing but an instrument. It
is nothing but something to be dismantled and strip mined, as opposed
to IVF, which I must say, if we were having an argument here 20
years ago about IVF, I would probably raise these same concerns.
It is a settled practice.
But why do not your same moral concerns condemn IVF for the same
reason? There is no space for the double effect to get going, the
doctrine of double effect.
Very briefly. There are two things, it seems to me. Charles is trying
to make, whether successfully or not, some kind of a distinction,
and if that distinction cannot be made, it cuts in two directions.
Either what he has accepted before—
I agree very much, yes.
The two gentlemen at the end of the table are masters of the argument
of double effect, and if I give them half a chance, we are going
to get a long lecture on it, and I do not want it.
(Inaudible. No microphone.)
I know that.
But I saw Robby's hand go up, and I knew what was coming, right?
Fair point, Mr. Chairman.
We should provide some written material on this, because it is an
important aspect of the moral argumentation, and there is no reason
why it should be the private prerogative of some of us. Let's get
the writings out on this.
But Gil was on the list from before. Paul, Rebecca, Janet, and Mary
Ann. Is your light on for—?
No, I do not want to monopolize it. I would carry it on. I do not
know if you want to go on with it.
Well, look, I think on the general point, Charles at least has raised
the question about— And he did not even— He, in a way, raised
the question, what happens when you allow the creation of embryos
for use and destruction. The question is whether that should cover
just these, or those, but that is a piece of this discussion. And
he has, in a way, framed it.
Some people will find this a persuasive concern. Others will say
we can find the right boundary at the appearance of neurological
cells, or something like that, where we can live with this. But
I think the question has been posed, and this kind of discussion,
while complicated, does not seem to me to undermine the importance
of the question that has been raised.
I mean, all it implies—
So, I mean, if—
It implies that people who oppose reproductive cloning, research
in cloning, ought to be campaigning against IVF. I do not think
You can simply argue it is a settled practice, and we ought not
complicate our moral lives by going on in the same direction if
you want, or we can argue about distinctions between the two processes.
But either way, I do not think it affects the argument.
Let's go forward, if we could. Gil, Paul, Rebecca, Janet, Mary Ann.
PROF. MEILAENDER: Before we ever got involved in
double effect, I already was on your list because I wanted to say
something about and in support of, but from a little different angle,
Charles' second argument, which I do not think, at least in terms
of what I want to say about it, requires talking about double effect
language at all. Indeed, I am not even sure that double effect language
is good language to clarify what is going on there.
What I wanted to note is this. We have had considerable agreement,
by no means unanimity, but considerable agreement among lots of
people who do not agree just generally on these questions, that
the use of spare embryos for research could be looked upon more
favorably than the deliberate creation of embryos for research followed
by destruction. I know there are complicated arguments about it.
One does not have to be persuaded by it. But I just note that we
have actually had a good bit of agreement on that point. A lot of
people who do not agree on general things have agreed on that. And
the point has involved not a complicated argument about double effect,
but the notion that these spare embryos are at some point going
to be discarded anyway. The question is simply whether they should
die through being discarded, or whether they should die by being
made the object of research. I mean, we have had considerable agreement
about that. I am not saying it is persuasive, but we have had it.
What I want to notice, and it comes to Charles' second argument,
is that there be a kind of peculiar thing about the position B in
these policy options that would say are you for banning clonal reproduction
but permitting whatever we call the other thing, research or therapeutic
cloning, or whatever, in that in a sense, under the guise of doing
something restrictive, under the guise of saying, well, now we are
going to ban clonal reproduction, one would actually be giving greater
approval to the deliberate creation of embryos for the purpose of
research followed by destruction, something that, in fact, there
has been a good deal of hesitance about, and a good bit of squeamishness
about. It would be a very peculiar result that what you would be
adopting is a position that on the face of it looked as if, you
know, we were doing something restrictive, but that would in fact,
in terms of the kind of a rough consensus of opinion that has been
going on, would turn out to loosen the restrictions. I take it that
in a way, that is what Charles' second point was about. I think
that would be a peculiar thing. Or at least if one did it, one should
realize what one was doing. I hope that is clear.
In scribbling, I lost my page. Paul.
DR. MCHUGH: Thank you. I am going to lead the discussion
just slightly in another direction, only to pick up on what I said
yesterday. I have not made my mind up at all about what should be
legislation in this arena, but I do think that the crucial thing
to keep in mind for all of us is that the burden of proof for changing
what we do, and how we should act, has to be on those that propose
that we move in that direction, and legislation might or might not
maintain that burden of proof. If we do that, I think we will gain
the support of the American people for the animal research that
is going on right now in stem cell research, and we encourage that,
and we want to wait for what directions for human stem cell research
those animal results command.
Now, yesterday I said that it was very important that we have people
come and talk to us about just what is happening in the therapeutic
stem cell arena. And one of the problems that is present in our
discourse now is the presumption that stem cell therapies work simply
like transplant cells, that you replace the cells that are lost
by the stem cells that you grow.
Now, the animal research is quite clear that that is not always,
in fact, not often the way a therapeutic phenomenon occurs. Right
now, excellent research, excellent animal research is going on at
Johns Hopkins by John Gearhart and others on animals that have a
form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the death of cells in the
spinal cord, anterior Hans cells, and they are demonstrating in
mice that stem cells will alleviate the symptoms of those mice.
However, they now know that those stem cells do so not as transplanted
anterior Hans cells, but because they become biological pumps producing
important trophic factors that support the failing cells of the
host, rather than replacing the failing cells with healthy neurons.
Now, if stem cells are capable of doing this good because they produce
trophic factors, that is, chemicals, we can see a future after all,
in which with certain diseases anyway, these trophic factors can
be supplied without the need of having them delivered by cells with
all of cellular problems, and all of the things that cells bring
besides their generation of trophic factors.
I believe that we are often proposing our future on a lack of adequate
scientific studies, and the hypotheses those scientific studies
command. So that, I think, is tremendously important for us to understand,
that stem cells are probably going to do many other things than
we think they are doing, and that some of those things will or will
not require— After all, we do not need the mold any more to produce
penicillin, and that is a great thing, and we may not need the stem
cells to produce some of the therapeutic advantages that we have.
As I say, I have not made my mind up about issues of legislative
banning and the like, simply because I want to learn more from the
conversation. But anything that will continue to enhance our capacity
to think into the future will come, in my opinion, from extended
animal research, and the results that they show.
Thank you. Rebecca, then Janet.
I will just mention another moral distinction that has been invoked
to differentiate leaving IVF embryos in the freezer, believing that
it is certainly likely that at some point they will deteriorate
and quote "die" versus destroying them, either just taking
them out of the freezer, actively destroying them, or destroying
them in research, is act versus omission, or active/passive. Now,
whether that is a significant distinction or not is another question,
but that is another set of concepts that have been used.
I would like to mention a fourth legislative option which is— I
am not an expert on this, but I have read enough to know that some
people really question whether the FDA has jurisdiction to regulate
human reproductive cloning, because there is debate over whether
it is a biologic, this thing, or whatever it is that we are talking
about is a biologic. So, another basic concern that I have is that
Congress should clearly indicate that they want the FDA to regulate
this, and treat it just as they do drugs and devices.
Treat what, Rebecca?
Well, reproductive. That is, if there is an effort to implant a
cloned embryo and create a child, I want that to be regulated in
the private sector as well as the public sector, just as the development
of a drug or another biologic is, so that if you are going to implant
this embryo into a pregnant woman, I would like to see the HHS regs
on research involving pregnant women and fetuses apply to that study.
Certainly now, the FDA requires proposals to test drugs in human
beings to be reviewed by an IRB, and to meet the human subjects
regulations. At some point, this future child should be considered
a human subject, and so, these questions about is it safe enough,
is there enough basis to try this in a human, would apply. Any private
company that tries to clone an embryo and bring it to term who did
not go through the FDA would then face fines and other things that
They have never regulated IVF, have they?
No. I also think that is something they might. But the FDA is now
saying that they have jurisdiction, and they, in fact, sent a letter
to one of these people who said that—
I think that has been— It is now in dispute what they are saying.
I mean, I think there was some talk that they claimed jurisdiction
that appeared in the testimony. In the last week, I have heard the
controversy. We could look into this.
But in any event, it is a question of Congressional intent, so Congress
could make it clear that they want this to happen, and that would
be another option.
And that also, I think, would not run into questions in terms of
constitutionality and federal jurisdiction questions that I think
really— I do not know if it would be appropriate to have a commission
paper to look at questions about whether a federal legislative ban
would pass a—you know, the Supreme Court would approve it, because
we have potentially the quote "reproductive rights" here,
individual rights. We also have, some people say, the right to conduct
scientific research, certainly in the private sector is protected
by the First Amendment. And also, you know, medicine in general
is considered a matter for state regulation, so what is the federal
government doing coming in and imposing this on the states?
Those are all questions I would have as a lawyer, and I am not an
expert on that, so I would want those to be considered.
My problem with the term "therapeutic cloning" is that
I want us to present this in a way that the public gets an accurate
impression of the uncertainties here. I do think it is important
to say there are potential medical benefits, and that could be a
justification for research cloning, but it is very uncertain at
this point whether these things will pan out. It is not therapeutic
at this point to anyone. It is very much in the early research stage.
It is not clear that we are going to need genetically identical
stem cells if this does go forward. So, you know, which way that
cuts on our ultimate position is another question, but I do want
to get some— I think this has been oversold to the public in terms
of how close we are to a cure, and how close this is to actual therapy,
and I want to make clear the state of the science.
And finally, another moral consideration that we need to bring in
here is that research cloning requires oocytes, and so, where are
these oocytes going to come from? We know that there already is
demand for oocytes to help people have children. This would create
another need for these oocytes. We have been struggling with this
issue about should there be payment; if so, how much? And so, this
would take us further into that debate as well, and those things
need to be addressed.
Good. Thank you. Look, I am going to just recognize Janet and Mary
Ann on this topic, and then, I think we should spend some time explicitly
on the therapeutic cloning research, on the research cloning question.
Well, I certainly support Paul and Mary Ann in their call for more
research in these areas because it is true these are very early
days. And the question of how important this may be medically is
totally unresolved which is, I think, a reason for us to urge caution,
that we do not prevent American scientists from trying to help to
resolve these issues, because scientists in other countries already
have approval from their governments to move and study these questions.
Now, maybe you say that is fine, let the Brits do this, and when
they find the answers, we will come hat in hand to try to get the
results. But I think as a scientist, I would feel very unhappy if,
in fact, my colleagues were not also given the opportunity to participate
in this. So, that, I think, urges us to be very cautious in whatever
stand that we take.
I welcome the chairman's suggestion that we help with the text of
the working paper. I agree with Elizabeth. I found many of the terms
pejorative and judgmental, and I think it is inappropriate for a
paper which is in theory to inform us neutrally about the facts,
that much of the text contains what I would consider very serious
I do urge us, and the chairman has already said that we will invite
others to come and help with our general education because I do
have a copy of the National Academy draft report, not the final
report, and their recommendations in the report itself states what
we have already been emphasizing, that this is just at the very
beginning of a very complicated process of understanding the use,
or the lack of use, or those situations in which it will be useful,
and those situations in which it will not be useful. And so, the
Academy has recommended that stem cell research be continued and
supported, and publicly funded, supported, and human stem cell research,
so that we are able to answer some of these uncertainties.
And Paul had his example where the cells themselves were not needed.
It was clear they were providing chemicals. Another paper that came
out in the Proceedings of the National Academy this month on Parkinson's
disease using a rat model and murine stem cells, showed that it
was the murine stem cells that actually provided the chemicals themselves
directly from the murine cells that helped to treat the animals,
so that certainly in some circumstances, the cells themselves are
going to be needed.
Thank you very much. Mary Ann.
PROF. GLENDON: I think Charles introduced a very
important word into our discussion when he brought up the idea of
desensitization as a way of talking about the broader social effects
of actions and decisions we might take now. Sometimes when people
are trying to make that argument they use the expression "slippery
slope", which actually is not helpful here because if you are
on a slippery slope, you know it. You feel the breeze going by,
and the problems that we are dealing with here usually involve changes
that are so gradual and imperceptible that you do not know what
has happened until you end up desensitized, and we have a history
of racism, and a history of eugenic practices in other contexts
that show us how easy it is to become desensitized.
So, for that reason, I wanted to raise a question about the relationship
of desensitization to settled practices because, Charles, you said,
if I understood you correctly, that 20 years ago you would have
raised similar concerns about IVF, but now it has become a well
settled practice. And the question would be whether that having
become a well settled practice has already desensitized us to a
certain extent to misuse of our own species.
And here, I will just raise a research question for us later on.
One of the reasons why I would like to look into what other countries
are doing on this is that we have been told that Germany has been
extremely hesitant about going down this path. My own research suggests
that countries that were under German occupation are very hesitant.
Well, there is a reason for that, and the reason has to do with
a lot of factors peculiar to the civil law systems, but also with
history, and the idea that maybe we should be thinking about heightening
sensitivity as well as the potential harm of desensitization.
Thank you. Do you want to respond immediately to this?
No, I will wait.
Michael, go ahead. These will be the last two comments before I
turn the discussion.
PROF. SANDEL: Well, I agree entirely with what
Mary Ann has said, and by challenging the dis-analogy, the moral
dis-analogy, Charles was offering I was leaving open the question
of which direction one pursues it in. I think we should first see
whether the analogy is morally sustainable, and then if it is not,
we may have to examine settled practices. Or we may have to reconsider
the unsettled practice. So, I think that is a further step, but
we have to get clear on whether the moral analogy works or not,
because it does raise yet another possibility that we have not discussed.
So, just to replay the bidding quickly, the question arises, is
therapeutic cloning morally different from medical research carried
out on embryos created for that purpose through IVF. And I think
most people would agree, no. Here we are talking about embryos created
for that purpose, not for reproductive purposes.
But then the question is, is therapeutic cloning different from
research on extra embryos created for reproductive purposes, and
that is where this question about whether there is a morally persuasive
distinction arises. My argument there was that they are morally
on a par. They are morally on a par because both aim at worthy ends,
reproduction in the one case, relief of suffering in the other,
and in both cases there is a certain but undesirable side effect,
namely the death of embryos. It is an undesirable side effect for
anyone who regards an embryo as other than a thing. Quite apart
from whatever else one considers the embryo to be, it is undesirable.
So, one issue is whether you can create a dis-analogy there. But
a further question is, are these two ends— Do we take for granted
that these two worthy ends are equally worthy? We take for granted
as settled practice, as Mary Ann was saying, that the worthy end
of human reproduction justifies IVF. That is the settled practice
Charles was describing. But if the dis-analogy cannot be made out,
if Charles's dis-analogy does not hold, then we have to compare,
or we might find ourselves comparing the relative worth of those
ends, and we may find, or an argument could be made, that depending
on just what the medical promise is, and the scientists have to
tell us about that, it might be that a more worthy end to aim at
is to create through IVF embryos to have some great breakthrough
through dread diseases. I do not know. Depending on whether that
is plausible, whether that could happen, that might be more morally
important than creating embryos through IVF for the sake of creating
a baby. There are other ways of having a child, adoption for example.
Maybe the morally stronger case is actually the creation of embryos
through IVF to relieve human suffering, if the science actually
tells us plausibly that that great good really would be achieved,
in which case we would have to weigh that.
But all of this is consistent with Leon's point that to break down
that analogy does not answer the question, well then, in which way
do you go.
Charles, last word on this, and then we are going to move.
I do not want to turn this into a seminar on this issue, although
I would be happy to have one with Michael anywhere, anytime, but
Let me just make one point. The distinction that Michael is overlooking
is that in cloning, it is 100 percent destruction. In IVF, it is
not. And that makes it important because in cloning, the cell is
created only as a means. In IVF, you are creating a series of embryos
hoping that they will become a child. You are creating all of them
in a sense to be an end, but you do not know which one. Some will
make it, and some do not. And that, I think, is a fundamental distinction.
It is not as if you are creating a single embryo in IVF and the
others are helper embryos who will die and be discarded. All of
them are candidates. One will make it, others will not. And in fact,
the ones who will not will end up in the freezer, and they can be
implanted. So, it is not as if it is a means to an end necessarily.
That is the only possible outcome in cloning, and that is why I
think turning it into purely a means, purely an instrument of our
will to another end, I think is the fundamental moral distinction.
And as Mary Ann indicated, it starts a real process of desensitization,
and it could end up quite badly if we do not stop it at the beginning.
DR. BLACKBURN: It is just a factual interjection,
not to argue against or for what you are saying. But in fact, there
is a process of twinning, whereby an embryo is taken to a four cell
stage, and this naturally happens in identical twins, can happen,
and now there are two embryos. I am just going to raise the question:
What if one is for a purpose that somebody finds different and appropriately
moral, and one is for, you know, using for therapeutic cloning?
Because, so Charles, I am just saying, it is actually not 100 percent
inevitable that the embryo would be destroyed, because it could
have an identical twin produced, you know, at a two cell— Is that
right? Two cell stage, or four cell?
Actually, you can get twinning all the way from the two cell stage
up to the primitive streak and beyond, which is conjoined twins.
DR. BLACKBURN: Just a fact. I am not trying to
argue for or against.
Let me— We have really run over on this, though it has not altogether
been run over because I would observe that with very few exceptions
the group as a whole has been somewhat more leery than in previous
sessions of grasping the nub of the question, of the legislative
alternatives for discussion. There are lots of good reasons for
that. It may be that one has not thought through the moral argumentation
sufficiently, or that people are leery of legislation. Many people
are much more interested in the moral arguments, and let somebody
else worry about the policy questions.
But I remind you that we do have a charge here, not only to think
abstractly and philosophically, but to try to be helpful to the
people whose burden it is to make these decisions, whether we would
have put them in that position or not. And we do find ourselves
in the middle of this kind of debate. And it is too early, I think,
for us to come down on this, but I think we would be irresponsible
if we did not air it out in here as to which of the legislative,
including a fourth possible alternative, makes the most sense to
the people here.
In some way, the sticking point in this discussion has really to
do with the importance of what one would be giving up if one enacted
the strict ban that Charles has argued for. He has made two parts
of the argument, and I think has been willing, he did not say so,
but I think he is willing in fact to say, look, I grant that there
might be various kinds of scientific and therapeutic benefits that
come from allowing the cloning of embryos for research, but given
what he cares about in this legislation, he is willing to pay that
price for this kind of good, and that is open to discussion.
It does seem to me that we need some clarification, however, some
explicit discussion, and we can just barely open it up today, to
really talk about this matter of the non-reproductive cloning, with
apologies to Robby. And here in the last part of this paper, and
all we can really do is at least barely get it discussed, in this
section of the working paper beginning on page 8, we make it perfectly
clear that we are aware of the fact that this is somehow central
to the current legislative debate. And it turns out to be of interest,
I think, for this body well beyond what we might have to contribute
to that debate. Because as the discussion has already proceeded,
it is clear that this is a test case, maybe a good test case, for
thinking about how faced with the uncertainties both of the scientific
promise on the one hand, and with the moral hazard on the other,
prudent decisions should be made.
There are some people who would argue that the burden of ignorance
on the promise means you should do nothing. Some people would argue
that the burden of ignorance—that the moral hazard being sufficiently
great, you should do this and revisit. There are moratoriums, there
are bans that are doing nothing. A lot depends really, since we
are going to be necessarily deliberating in the presence of considerable
ignorance, both about the scientific promise and the medical payoff,
as well as about how many of these moral worries really are moral
worries. That is the way in which policy decisions and political
deliberations take place, not in the way in which people of science
like to do business. But that is where it is. So, I think it is
worth our while as an example, to sort of think this one through,
and to begin to talk on the side of the research therapeutic cloning.
There is a section in here which describes the idea. I think it
is at least the idea which has been most highly touted. There are
other avenues of research to be done with cloned embryos that have
not been given as much promise, but the major one has been the individualized,
hence presumably rejection-proof cells for re-transplant and regenerative
medicine. The idea of that is here, the idea behind it, and how
do the advocates of research say this will work. And then we have
a series of scientific, conceptual, and practical questions. Will
this in fact work? Is it necessary, or are there alternative ways
to get around this problem? Discussions of terminology, a mention
of other kinds of perhaps even more beneficial research from research
cloning than this particular one that has been touted. And then,
a series of moral, prudential, and social considerations.
And finally, concluding with something that Paul and Mary Ann have
mentioned in the past, that in some ways, what is at issue in this
policy question is a burden of proof question, and ordinarily in
these matters, we place the burden of proof on the opponents of
going forward with anything, whether it be technological innovation,
or scientific discovery. Some people are arguing here that precisely
because a cloning ban would shift the burden of proof to those who
show why it would be necessary to have it, that that is a good thing,
given what the stakes are. Others will insist, look, that this is
a perilous threat to scientific and technological progress dealing
with freedom, and the law might not hit the target, and various
It seems to me worth our while to look at the particular subject
of therapeutic cloning now, at least to get us started on it, and
perhaps Janet, or Michael, you would like to start off on— Tell
us something about, in brief, why you think it is— Let me place
the burden on you. Why is this work necessary, since if as Rebecca
suggested, there might be some things that are desirable but not
necessary? Could you help get us started in thinking about that?
Well, I would, because I think the way you phrased it, you then
put the burden of proof on people who are in favor of proposing
a ban, which is, I think, correct. I think the burden of proof is
why when we now allow this to go forward, you think it should be
stopped. So, the burden of proof is on those who want to stop it,
I believe. But that is not the question you asked me.
I think that it is impossible to tell you now what the benefits
of therapeutic or regenerative medicine might be. But that, in my
view, is all the more reason to allow it to move forward in a thoughtful
manner because the potential, if this potential is realized, will
be extraordinarily important in many of the degenerative diseases
which will face Americans in the future, as well as some of the
other diseases that face young people as well. And I was very heartened
with Michael's discussion that you have two moral goods competing
with one another, or two moral considerations competing with one
another, and that in fact, one moral consideration that this could
be of benefit to a large number of people may outweigh the moral
harm of destroying an embryo, if in turn that is how it ultimately
comes to pass. And I think, and it is very clear in the Academy
report, we are just at the very beginning of something that is potentially
very important. And I would like also now to just refresh people's
memories about other medical breakthroughs, and I will use my own
personal experiences, because it is currently relevant. Studying
chromosome abnormalities in leukemia cells, I discovered a translocation.
This translocation in the genes at the translocation breakpoint
were then identified, and the effect of the translocation on the
function of these genes was identified. This led to the search,
the informed search, for an inhibitor of the abnormal function of
the gene involved in the translocation, and this is now a very important
treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia. Namely, the drug is
SDI 571, or Gleevek(?). Finding the translocation was 1972. The
drug is used in 1998. So, you are talking about almost 30 years
from a discovery to treatment.
We cannot be impatient in this. And there are a lot of failures,
and it took many people in a number of countries to really bring
this to fruition, and we have to keep that perspective very clearly
in mind as we are talking about this. And again, one of the terms
I was concerned about in the report talks about the imminent use.
Nobody is talking about imminent use of these stem cells for regenerative
medicine in patients as the present time.
Michael, did you want to follow?
Could I make—? Sorry, just one sentence on that. A lot of people
in Washington who have been advocating on one side of this issue
have argued often and repeatedly about imminent use. They say those
of us who are against this research, or who want to ban it, are
preventing a cure for Grandma or Grandpa or whoever, and the strong
implication if not explicit statement is that this is around the
corner, and we will be harming people today who could be helped
tomorrow. And that, I think, is unfortunate. I think it is misleading.
Well, I do not disagree with that, and I think that helping to educate
people as to the actual facts will be useful as well.
Thank you. Michael Gazzaniga, please.
I think what Janet is reflecting on reminds me of what Charles Townes,
the Nobel laureate in physics, said. He said, "The wonderful
thing about a new idea is you do not know about it yet." And
so, we, those who are laboratory scientists, are constantly surprised
and overjoyed at what might be learned.
I want to go back to my earlier comment this morning, because I
think one of the duties is to set the stage as to whether the ethical,
moral problem is as deep as we have been led to believe. And I want
to again just reiterate for us to think about and discuss this model
of the transplant. Because we have societally in place now this
major, almost bizarre but routine, daily happening that during the
course of one year in the United States, there are 8000 heart transplants
carried out on people who are declared brain-dead. The heart is
assigned to either a bank, or a family can assign it to a particular
person. It is harvested by a surgeon in an otherwise live person.
They take the heart out, and carry out the transplant. And this
goes on routinely, and with great support by the American people.
Now, in the blastocysts, we have to come back to the fact that we
are talking about a 200 cell organism that is basically the next-of-kin
are the two parents. And the next-of-kin could be asked, we are
going to have to destroy this, or we can destroy it, or you could
make it available for stem cell research. It is your call. There
is no brain, so there is no issue there. Do you want to do it? And
they say yes or no. And if they say yes, then I think one also confusion
that may be on some people's mind here, we are not talking about
cloning the embryo. We are talking about cloning the stem cells
from the embryo. That is what is being cloned for potential medical
After the embryo is created by nuclear transplant.
That is different. But I would suggest that for the near future,
that the hundreds of thousands of IVF frozen embryos are going to
be the source of the biomedical community's interest. So, I think
that is just not a relevant point.
So, if you get people thinking in terms of the transplant model,
if you educate people that this blastocyst really is brainless,
would thinking change? You know, there is a saying in Washington,
what did you know and when did you know it. We are sort of all locked
in by our culture, and I am wondering if Aquinas knew— We could
change the phrase and say, what did not he know when he said it.
And if these people who did a lot of our moral thinking early in
our human history knew what we now know today, I wonder what they
would think. And I think that it is our duty to at least put those
facts out on the table, and let this group and the larger American
community try to sort it out.
Does not it affect your analogy that in the case of soon-to-be-pronounced
brain-dead prospective donor of an organ, that that being has no
future, whereas this blastocyst is not yet brain-dead? Sorry, not
yet brained, but on the way. Does that bother the analogy?
It does not bother me. But—
You remind me of my mother. The notion of potential energy, of course,
is there, the potential of what could happen. But I just think that
is just something you are comfortable with or you are not comfortable
with, and that just does not bother me.
Stephen, Bill, and then we will break soon so we can have proper
time for the public comment. Stephen?
Thank you. First of all, I suppose that since this is the mode today,
I also need to say a word about some of the terminology in the debate,
especially in the last few minutes. I am very troubled by the term
"burden of proof" I should say. I think that it suggests
a kind of legalism that is not appropriate in these discussions.
We might, perhaps, say "burden of persuasion" which also
is just a legalism, but less so.
Here is why I think it is a better term. At this point in our deliberations,
we are talking about policy. We are talking about how to respond
to items that are on the legislative horizon, that are imminent
in some sense. And legislation has a momentum of its own, often
driven by where legislators believe the public is at a particular
moment. So, the burden of persuasion is a practical burden, not
an ethical burden, and as a practical matter, it rests on those
who are trying to push things differently than the way they seem
to be going. So, if we think that there is a roller coaster toward
a ban, then the burden of persuasion politically rests on those
opposing the ban. And that is one point I wanted to make about that.
But let me say a word about this distinction. Let us call it a distinction
between cloning that is and is not meant to lead to human live birth.
How is that? Let's call it that. It strikes me that one's view of
the distinction between what is meant to lead to live birth, and
cloning that is not depends deeply on the reason that one is troubled
by cloning that is meant to lead to live birth.
We said a few minutes ago, well, reproductive cloning as it has
been called, everybody seems to be against it. I am not sure that
is true, but people seem to be against that. It strikes me that
suppose one is against that because of a sense that we are somehow
tampering with natural forces in a way that we should not. That
concern would not necessarily carry over into cloning that was not
intended to lead to live birth. In fact, one could easily draw a
distinction, and say that the tampering with natural forces is more
serious if you intend to produce a human being. So, there the distinction
On the other hand, you can imagine someone whose view is that from
a very early stage, and possibly from the moment when the sperm
enters the egg, that you have if not a human life, certainly something
other than a thing to be used as an object with certain societal
responsibilities to protection attaching to it, and if that is the
case, then it strikes me that the case for banning so-called therapeutic
or research cloning is stronger than the case for banning reproductive
cloning. Because at least in the reproductive cloning case, you
tend to create a live birth. In the other case, you intend to create
the embryo, harvest the cells, and destroy the embryo. So, it matters
a great deal what one's ground is for this supposed consensus on
the reproductive cloning ban to decide how one feels about the so-called
therapeutic, the ban that I said is the research that is not intended
to lead to a live birth.
Bill, you want to wind this up for us?
I have a little problem with what you said, and I feel the weight
of it. But when Dr. Rowley was speaking about this potential research,
I just felt more than affirmation, because I mean, she probably
knows more than I do about science and trained as a physician. But
my instinct, and my sense is that this is going to be more than
just a possibility; that we have discovered a new continent of possible
therapeutic use. We have stepped on to Plymouth Rock, and to say
that there is nothing out there, no resources, is probably underestimating.
My own feeling is that stem cell research might turn out to be the
greatest therapeutic tool in the history of medicine. I think we
have to be extremely, extremely careful not to preclude any positive
But the problem is that it is unlike any time or any question in
medical history. We are dealing with the most powerful, fundamental
question of all. We are dealing with the sanctity of life. And I
do not use that term lightly. I think that if you start by saying,
okay, it has no moral status until it has brain waves, then you
might ask what kind of brain waves. At two months, it apparently
has some early neuronal firings. Okay, other people say it is only
six months that it has actual human-like brain waves. Other people
said a few years ago, in the history of medicine, that infants do
not have consciousness. We do not need to give them anesthetic when
we do operations. You remember that. So, then the question comes,
well, when? And what kind of brain? And what kind of mind? Is the
mentally retarded person a human being? Is it nothing? If it is
nothing, and I must admit it is a rather odd society where we can
on one side of the medical center do abortions up until 24 weeks,
and actually beyond, and on the other side, cannot do medical research
on a little clump of cells. I mean, that seems like a strange discontinuity.
Of course, there are other issues involved, other interests and
But we have got to get it together as a society. We have got to
figure out what developing life actually is. What is the status
of it? Is it nothing? In which case, why do we oppose the idea of
going beyond the 14 day stage that they are talking so— You know,
oh, it is an individual then, and so forth. Actually, ask the logical
question. If we allow abortion in this society the way we do, which
we do, and I am not arguing against that at this point, and maybe
we should never have argued against it. I am not interested in laws;
I am interested in ideals anyway. Sorry, I guess I do not belong
on the committee.
But here is the question. If we allow this, and we say that the
status of the embryo is an open matter, then why should not we not
only create embryos in order to take the cells, what some people
call harvesting them for their spare parts, but why should not we
actually implant those embryos into the womb until it has what you
would define as the human mind? Why should not that—? I mean, suppose
somebody said, as it was made years ago, a desire for somebody to
have their father's sperm impregnate them so that they could grow
a tissue-compatible kidney donor for their father who was dying
of kidney failure? We all know that horrible story. Well, what is
the reason why not, actually? Why could not we implant it? Why 14
days? Why 30 days? Why ever?
The question is a profound question. I am not trying to preempt
the discussion at all in saying this, just to put the weight on
what is actually at stake here. What is potency? I would not use
the word "potential", by the way. I would use the word
"potency". When you have the joining of sperm and egg,
you have the initiation of the most complex chemical reaction in
the known universe. What weight do we place on that?
Just one final point. I am worried about it, and I am not pretending
I have the answers. But it seems to me that we should take weight
of this argument, that if it is April 15th, and we are in Central
Park, and the sign says "Do Not Pick the Flowers", and
we go to the flower bed, and there is a bud coming up but it has
not yet formed a tulip, we might ask ourselves, does the sign that
says "Do Not Pick the Flowers" preempt us from picking
I am not even going to follow.
I will not presume to follow. Let's take 10 minutes, and we will
have the public session. I will look back on this session at the
beginning of the next.
(Whereupon a brief recess was taken.)
7: PUBLIC COMMENTS
Why do not we begin? We have in this last session of this first
meeting the opportunity for public comment, and I think I will—
We have asked people to sign up who would like to speak, and I do
not want to keep them waiting longer than we already have.
I think I will forego an attempt to summarize that discussion, except
to point out that it is perfectly clear that there are— This is
not an argument between morality and immorality, but an argument
between powerfully competing goods, and the question is whether
one can find— And to add further, it is unlikely, perhaps we can
work for it, that we can find a position in which something is not
sacrificed to something else. And there are probably people who
are simply constitutionally unwilling to make any sacrifices on
things that are of profound importance to them. We will find out
as we go along.
I am certainly not unhappy to see develop the most powerful statements
on the legislative alternatives, just as I am on the ethical argumentation,
and Council members are invited on the matter of the legal issues
to be submitting things, and we will circulate. And it is my hope
that we will be able to—that we will all read the scientific information
prepared by the Academy, use that as a point of departure, not as
the whole story by any means, but they have done an exhaustive study,
and we would do very, very well to inform ourselves with the help
of that report, and at least be as clear as we can be given the
uncertainties of the future about what the promise of that research
is. That will not settle absolutely the moral question, or the policy
question, for at least some people in the room, but it behooves
us to be well-informed, as well-informed on that as we can be, and
I trust that that is acceptable.
We have, if my list is correct, a list of either seven or eight
people who have asked to speak. I think the custom at the National
Bioethics Advisory Commission was that people would be given five
minutes each, and I will try to hold you to that in the interest
of making time for everyone who would like to. I believe the microphone
for use is behind the end of the table, and if I could ask my colleagues
at the end of the table as a courtesy to our speakers to turn around.
Also, I would like to ask people who have cell phones in the room
to please turn them off. There have been several people who found
them disconcerting. This is not a Luddite argument, but a matter
The first member of the public— And by the way, let me say in general
that I think I am speaking for all of us, that I regard these public
parts of the meeting not as an onerous burden that law requires,
but as an opportunity for members of this Council to hear from our
fellow citizens whose thoughts are at least as relevant as our own.
So, we look forward to hearing from everyone. What you say will
figure in our deliberations, and strong statements are, of course,
welcome because people have strong views, but I am going to insist
The first statement is from John Wertman, Consortium of Social Sciences
Association, if my information is correct. Is Mr. Wertman here?
Mr. Wertman? I will return and see if he might—
Father Joseph Howard of the American Bioethics Advisory Board. Is
Father Howard here? Thank you.
PRESENTATION BY FATHER JOHN HOWARD
FR. HOWARD: Dr. Kass and distinguished members
and scholars of the Presidential Bioethics Council, I am Father
Joseph Howard. I serve as Executive Director of the American Bioethics
Advisory Commission, a division of American Life League in Stafford,
Virginia. Our commission was formed at the same time the former
Clinton Bioethics Commission was formed, and consists of 21 distinguished
scholars, men and women, scattered throughout the nation, including
two professor emeriti of human embryology.
The view of our commission on what constitutes bioethics is that
bioethics involves analysis of biomedical, technological issues
such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, cloning, gene therapy,
adult and human embryonic stem cell research, and in our view it
should provide both a valid, accurate scientific as well as moral
analysis in accord with a respect for the absolute dignity of the
human person from fertilization until natural death. These issues,
as you are well aware, are very critical and cutting-edge. For example,
just recently it was reported in an eminent scientific journal that
a patient in a gene therapy trial had the virus used to transfer
the gene show up in his semen, indeed profound implications involving
germ cell lines.
On the issues of human cloning, we have great concerns as I am sure
each of you do, not only involving somatic cell nuclear transfer,
but also parthenogenesis, the experiments recently reported by Advanced
Cell Technology, blastomere splitting, and de-individuation. Our
position, again, is a clear one of banning all types of human cloning,
both reproductive and therapeutic.
It is the goal of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission that
over time we would hope to collaborate with your Bioethics Council,
and I look forward to the members of our distinguished commission
as well as myself getting to meet each of you, and hopefully, working
with you in some capacity.
Thank you very much, Father Howard.
Next on my list is Richard Doerflinger of the National Catholic
Conference of Bishops.
PRESENTATION BY MR. RICHARD DOERFLINGER
MR. DOERFLINGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Actually,
our name was changed recently to U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
We decided to recognize there are actually other national bishops
conferences in the world, and so adapted our name accordingly.
I am grateful for the opportunity to address this Council. I want
to start by saying I am a little bemused that some apologists for
the biotechnology industry have announced before a word was uttered
that this panel is stacked. This is the sixth such government advisory
panel I have addressed in my 20 years of representing the Catholic
Bishops Conference on these issues. It is actually the first such
panel whose conclusions I could not predict by looking at the list
At the first meeting of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel in 1994,
the chairman announced at the first meeting that if any member opposed
federal funding of human embryo research, he or she should leave
the room and not come back. That was a government panel the Washington
Post did not criticize for being stacked. We all have our own explanations
as to why.
At any rate, because I do see this panel as having an open mind
on the issue, I want to suggest that one of its most important tasks
may be just to provide us with the language, or the way of speaking,
that will clarify rather than conceal the realities of the cloning
issue. I think too many slogans have been used in the debate to
obfuscate and to hide reality, and I think a primary example is
the sentence "I am against reproductive cloning, but for therapeutic
cloning." I think in most people's minds this conjures up a
mental image of two completely different procedures, one producing
live babies, or even adults, a la Michael Keaton in the movie Multiplicity,
the other producing therapeutic research material. Some groups have
now decided to avoid the word "cloning" altogether when
referring to what it wants to protect calling it, for example, "nuclear
transplantation". This is scientific nonsense, of course. Human
cloning proceeds by nuclear transplantation regardless of what someone
may intend for the clone in the future.
The biological reality is that all cloning of multi-celled animals,
including man, occurs at the embryonic stage. All human cloning
is embryo cloning. Once the cloning procedure has been done, a new
organism genetically similar to the donor of the body cell has arisen.
We may have disagreements about the moral status of that organism,
but we should not deny that human cloning, a key event in a form
of asexual reproduction, has already taken place. Moreover, at this
point, as some have already said, there is no therapeutic indication
for human cloning, and as documented in the printed material we
have provided to the Council, there may never be.
If we could agree that—if we can agree, and that is not settled
either, that human cloning should not be allowed, the question is
not which cloning should we ban. It seems to me the question is
best put as should we ban the use of the cloning procedure in humans,
or should we ban what amounts to the normal and ordinary process
of allowing a human embryo to survive in a womb when that embryo
came from cloning. A ban solely on reproductive cloning is not in
our view a ban on cloning, but a ban on gestation and birth. Instead
of banning the creation of the cloned organism, it bans its later
survival. On further reflection, this is an odd proposal. It is
as if a slave owner in the antebellum South had forced abortions
on all his female slaves, and announced that in one generation he
had banned slavery.
Many experts, some of whom are on this Council, have persuasively,
I think, argued that such a ban would be ineffective, even at preventing
cloning for live birth. While it will take months of experimentation
to produce cloned embryos that could be expected to survive in a
womb, once that is achieved it would literally take seconds to transfer
those embryos to wombs. The woman could do it herself. And once
that is done, the only way to enforce a ban on live born clones
is, presumably, to imprison the woman and coerce an abortion.
But the moral problem about such a ban, I think, is equally important
to recognize, for such a proposal would effectively have the government
mandating the destruction of a class of humans at the embryonic
stage. We would define a class of developing human organisms it
is a crime not to kill.
This week, a Washington Post article, the same article that spoke
of this panel in the same breath as the Taliban, said that in the
view of some experts, if Congress decides to ban all human cloning
out of respect for the embryo, it will be imposing a particular
fundamentalist view on public policy. That is ridiculous in my view,
for members of Congress with widely differing views on the embryo
have already voted for a complete ban on human cloning.
One can cast such a vote both because it is a more effective ban,
and because one recognizes that the embryo deserves some recognition
and some respect, that Americans should not be required to treat
the embryo as toxic waste to be discarded upon government mandate
in our zeal to ban human cloning. It is the agenda of "ban
reproductive cloning only" that in the end, I believe, requires
us to hold just one narrow view of the embryo, the view that the
embryo is garbage. Or that he or she is to be hunted down and destroyed
as Public Enemy Number One. No clones left alive, therefore no cloning.
I doubt that anyone could create a fire wall to prevent that attitude
of contempt from affecting our dealings with older humans who may
arise from such procedures in the future.
In conclusion, I believe we should work to stop great evils, but
also ensure we do not create even greater evils in the process.
It is important to ban human cloning, and equally important to do
so in a morally and legally responsible way. In short, we should
not resolve this issue by blaming and penalizing the helpless victim
of the process, at whatever stage of development. We should ban
cloning by forbidding people to make a clone, not by forbidding
them to be a clone.
Thank you very much. The next person on my list is Elisabeth Breese
Brittin from the Parkinson's Action Network and CAMR. Thank you
PRESENTATION BY MS. ELISABETH BREESE BRITTIN
MS. BRITTIN: Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Kass, and
thank you to all the members of the commission.
My name is Elisabeth Breese Brittin. I am here both as the Executive
Director of the Parkinson's Action Network, and as a board member
of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. The Coalition
represents 60 different national organizations including patient
advocacy groups, a number of universities, and scientists and scientific
First, I just want to say on behalf of both of those groups, we
want to thank this distinguished panel for your time in coming to
consider these very difficult and very important issues. We are
concerned, however, that there are no patient representatives on
the commission, and just want to urge you to keep the patients in
mind as you go about the work that you are doing.
One of the things that we think is important for you all to consider
is the fact that time is not neutral for people who suffer from
these diseases, for people who have Parkinson's, or ALS, or Alzheimer's.
Every day they get worse, and they are degenerating. And although
these are issues that have to be considered very carefully, and
there are a lot of concerns, a lot of things that need to be debated
and discussed, and we certainly do not want to short-circuit that,
we want you to keep that in mind, that these are folks that are
struggling and suffering with these diseases every day. In fact,
the two organizations that I am here on behalf of represent literally
millions of Americans who suffer from a wide variety of diseases.
One of the things that has been expressed during the meeting in
the last couple of days and I have heard often is the fact that
there has been so much hype about the promise of stem cell research,
or therapeutic cloning, that folks think that these cures are around
the corner, and that we have built expectations that cannot be fulfilled.
And I just want to say as somebody who speaks to people with Parkinson's
every day, that I actually do not think that is true. I think that
people recognize that there is a long way down the road from doing
studies on mice to doing actual—going to their neurologist and
having this be a treatment that is available to them.
But I can tell you that my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's
disease before I was born, and died my first year in college. And
I have an uncle who died from Parkinson's disease just three months
ago. So, this is not something that is going to save my loved ones,
but if another generation does not have to go through what my family
went through, I think that is a huge blessing, and I think that
what we really want is the scientists to be able to go forward with
this research, to be able to see where it leads, to see if, in fact,
it does offer the hope that we have talked about. And what we want
to do is have that go forward, and not slow it down unnecessarily,
and let them do their work. And I can tell you from talking to the
patients and the scientists, they are perplexed. They do not understand
why they cannot see where it leads, and see if in fact this is the
promise that would change so many lives and offer so much hope to
people all around the world.
So, thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
This next might be a mistake on the sign up sheet, but my list with
a question mark has a Travis Earle. Is Mr. Earle here?
MR.EARLE: I did not sign up.
You signed in, but I think on the— Okay. Clear. Next is a Kevin
Allman from the AAAS. Is Mr. Allman here? That might also have been
a sign up attendance rather than a desire to speak. Sean Tipton,
the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
PRESENTATION BY MR. SEAN TIPTON
MR. TIPTON: Thank you. I, too, want to thank all
of you individually for your service on this commission, and for
the opportunity to address you today. I am Sean Tipton. I am the
Director of Public Affairs with the American Society for Reproductive
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine is pleased that President
Bush has recognized the need to examine the ethical implications
of the rapid advances in the biological and medical sciences. It
can be difficult to determine where all the new biotechnologies
are leading us, but it is important to try.
The field of reproductive medicine in particular has been advancing
at a very impressive pace despite the lack of federal funding for
much of the research. For some, these advances raise questions about
the nature of personhood, parenthood, and even life itself. Every
day ASRM members grapple with these bioethical questions in the
real world as they counsel their patients on the best medical treatments
for them. Our doctors are called upon to discuss with their patients
the ways their choice of treatment will work within the patient's
own system of ethics and beliefs. It is crucial that the voice of
the patient be heard as this commission goes about its work. Working
in a pluralistic society, it is important that all points of view
be heard from.
Since its founding in 1944, the ASRM has been dedicated to promoting
applied and basic research, and the highest standards of patient
care. To help guide us in this effort, ASRM early on established
an ethics committee. Its present members include medical doctors
and researchers as well as professors of law, ethics, political
science, and clinical social work, and one member of your Council.
Our ethics committee has done reports on a variety of topics including
cloning, the use of embryos for research, and the use of donated
gametes. We will be happy to make these reports available to you
as well as the committee that authored them.
ASRM is opposed to any attempts at human cloning. However, the knowledge
we may gain from further research into early human development by
studying the human embryo, eggs, embryonic stem cells, and therapeutic
cloning is too important to ignore. Studies in these areas may be
essential to the development of new techniques in regenerative medicine,
a field that holds the promise of using a patient's own genetic
material to cure their disease. Such research must continue, preferably
with the support and oversight of the federal government.
ASRM's leadership and its ethics committee are committed to working
with the President's Council on Bioethics, and are looking forward
to providing whatever assistance we can on scientific, medical,
and ethical issues.
Thank you. And Mr. Tipton, we would be very happy to have copies
of those reports. We will see that the members get them. Thank you.
Next, Bill Saunders from the FRC, the Family Research Council.
PRESENTATION BY MR. BILL SAUNDERS
Thank you. The Family Research Council welcomes the appointment
of this President's Council on Bioethics and such a distinguished
group. We feel that it is a critical moment in the history of this
country, and that members of this Council have a great opportunity
to help the American people to think about very important issues.
Some of these technological and scientific changes come so quickly
that we move forward before we have had time to reflect. So, I welcome
your deliberations as I have heard today and yesterday, thoughtful,
serious wrestling with the issues.
I encourage you to take your meetings, if you can, outside the Beltway
to cities around the country, because I believe it is at this moment
that we need to reach the American people so that they stop and
think about things. They need to carefully consider them. You have
the opportunity to do that, and I think if you went to other cities,
Indianapolis, Tacoma, Washington, wherever, you could reach people,
you could engage people in thinking about issues that will determine
So, we welcome the appointment of the Council, and we wish you well.
Thank you very much.
I will go back. John Wertman? Is Mr. Wertman in the room? Is there
anyone else who would like to make a public comment and whose name
we do not have? All right.
REMARKS BY DR. LEON KASS
Let us spend just a couple of minutes, we actually are a few minutes
earlier than adjournment, but we, I think, should at least speak
a bit about our future plans, and truth to tell, it was a difficult
enough task in short order to get this meeting organized that certain
questions about the future have been left in abeyance until now.
Members of Council should have received, I hope all of you did receive,
a series of provisional dates asking you to hold those for possible
subsequent meetings. The advertisement for the frequency of meetings
of this Council was we would meet 6 or 7 times a year, roughly,
and that would mean spacing things out; following that, if you simply
did it slavishly, we meet next in March. But I would like to propose
that we, in fact, have a meeting in February. And the reason for
doing that, I think, is that we have really opened things up here.
I will simply speak for myself. I have really been delighted with
the seriousness and the thoughtfulness of the exchange. There are
differences of opinion in here, probably deep differences of opinion,
but I have the sense that there is the making of good will for collegial
exploration, and that it would be a shame not to take advantage
of this momentum, and to move the conversation forward.
I do not think that there has to be a lot of new paper prepared
by the staff. And I have said it before, but it should be said again,
the staff did super-human work to produce these papers in two weeks.
Multiple drafting, and sessions with the minimum kind of equipment
making it possible. And we can revise certain sorts of things, but
I will not promise any additional staff papers. We will have the
Academy report distributed. I hope we can get someone from the Academy
In the light of materials we receive from you, we can structure
the agenda so that we can actually bite the bullet on some of these
questions. I do not mean closure, but focus in on some of the things
that we have opened up, skirted around, come back to.
The original dates scheduled in February— Let me say, generally
I think we should meet Thursdays and Fridays, and people who are
planning their academic calendar for next year would like to know
that. So that would be helpful down the road. And except for the
February meeting, all the other spring dates we proposed were Thursday
and Friday, in fact.
It turns out that we made a change for the February— The original
dates for the February meeting were 12th and 13th, but it turns
out that I notice that three or four members of Council are appearing
in Washington for another event on the 12th, and I think Dr. Rowley
is— Janet, you are going to be around also. Rather than make people
go away, or hang around an extra day, I would like to propose that
we meet Wednesday and Thursday of that week, the 13th and 14th of
February. There are a number of you who are already here, and it
will, I think, save travel time.
I apologize to those of you who are going to be inconvenienced,
or who cannot make it. I wish we could have had clear notice. The
original thought was we could not possibly produce new materials
for you in two weeks to send out for a February meeting. But I think
we can revisit these materials with profit. We can highlight for
you, or you can help us highlight for one another, for ourselves,
which parts of these documents, and what supplementary materials
we need to read and look at.
So, if that is all right— I guess the other way to do this would
be to go around the room and find out when there is a good date,
but let me do this by authority from the Chair, and apologize to
those for whom that is going to be a big burden. Please.
So, we should assume the same basic format, starting the morning
of the 13th and running a day and a half?
Let me see. The people who are in here on the 12th for meetings,
you, Jim Wilson, Robby George. Janet, you are in on Tuesday? All
I would be finished two or three in the afternoon.
On Tuesday. Well, other people are busy until about three. Am I
right? I think it is foolish to try to start something Tuesday afternoon.
We will begin early on Wednesday, and work through until midday
on Thursday. Is that all right?
Other comments, perorations, warnings? Suggestions, by the way,
not just about the substance but about the procedure are welcome.
They will not necessarily all be followed because they might conflict
with one another, but I would like to hear from you about the way
these meetings could be run to greater advantage as we go along.
I apologize for the crush yesterday. We worked ourselves pretty
hard with few breaks, and maybe the conversation in the afternoon
flagged some, but I thought that with a night's sleep, today was
very fine, and I look forward to the next.
Robby, did you have something?
Yes. I was just thinking, it would not be a matter of the staff
preparing more original paper, but if people were interested in
pursuing, as I would like to do at some point to offer rebuttal
of Michael's argument about the brain and brain life, the staff
could simply reproduce materials that are written out there, and
Oh, absolutely. Anything that is going to be produced. I mean, I
want to hear from as many of you as possible, as have things that
you would like to contribute of substance. And you could indicate
whether you want— I trust you will want this shared. Maybe something
is simply for private communication, though it is a matter of public
record if you submit it under the Freedom of Information Act. I
trust that most of the things you would want to send to the Chair,
you would want to send to all our colleagues. And you can either
send it directly, or we can send it out centrally. But written materials,
a page, two pages, five pages, whatever you produce, we will circulate.
And depending upon the volume, we will produce some kind of an agenda,
organize those topics for discussion, so that we can proceed fruitfully.
I do think that we have to proceed on several tracks at the same
time, and one is to continue the arguments, and try to develop a
mode of presentation of the discussion on reproductive cloning.
Some people think it is a dead question; others are not so sure.
How we choose to talk about it is itself, I think, an important
issue not yet resolved.
And we want, I think, to consider the legislative alternatives which
includes the no-legislation alternative. And loathe though some
of you are to be thinking in those terms, I exhort you to try, because
it is part of our business to take that up. And we will have a fuller
discussion of the issue of cloning that does not lead to reproduction
as a central part of this meeting.
Stephen, and then I have one more comment, and then we will break.
Should we then make any assumptions one way or the other about the
other proposed spring meeting dates that were circulated?
Oh, yes. Let's think in these terms. I thought we probably— I mean,
it may turn out to be wrong, but I thought before this meeting we
might skip February and meet January, March, April and May, hoping
to have something reasonably good written toward the end of the
spring. But I think maybe we should think in terms of January, February,
March, and May, and leave the time between March and May for a fair
amount of drafting and writing to be circulated, subject to change.
Do not give away those dates, please. But let's make that the working
I know it is a lot to ask of people, and many of you are vastly
overextended, and the gift of your time is precious to us, and I
do not want to abuse it. I am even loathe to call a meeting sooner
than two months, but I think the subject matter, and the group process,
demand it. So, with your indulgence, let's do that.
One final word. I think the difficulty here, just to reiterate,
we do have very powerful moral goods, and not just interests, that
are at stake in this discussion. The progress of science is not
a morally neutral good, and certainly, the relief of human suffering
and the cure of disease is a moral calling, and a high moral good,
and I do not think there is anybody in the room, even if they wanted
to ban cloning at the base, would dispute that.
There are other powerful moral goods that enter into our deliberations,
and the trick is going to be to find both the rich enough language
to describe those, so that even if we trample some of them, we are
aware of what they are, to describe these things in full. And that
was part of the meaning of the point of departure yesterday, philosophical,
and somewhat amorphous, and difficult to talk about as it was.
It seems to me that when and if we make recommendations, and perhaps
even conflicting recommendations on the policy side, it would be
very helpful to the policy makers to understand as fully as we can
help them to understand, the full meaning, and the full costs of
doing whichever thing that they do. And that is a task for us. Not
simply to speak in terms of the names of the goods which we privately
defend, whether it be the life of the embryo, or the good of medical
research, but to take upon ourselves individually the burden of
speaking to the concerns of the others in this room, and to see
whether one can somehow acknowledge and accommodate it, and learn
how to grapple with it for ourselves so that we finally own all
of the positions around the table, including the ones for which
we would personally come down.
I do not think anybody has argued in this room for anything that
did not have weight. And that means that however one comes down
on this question, it is important for each of us to be able to acknowledge
in our own thinking, and in the arguments that we put forth, the
weight of the other considerations. I think that is both judicious,
and I think a real public service in a climate, and in a town, if
I may say so, where it is just winners and losers, and you do not
really have to respect the deeply held considerations of the other
If we can present a kind of model moral political deliberation that
does that, I think we would have made a real contribution, at least
to those who would care to pay attention, and I hope there will
be quite a number.
Thank you very much for two wonderful days, and bless you for doing
it. The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 12:53 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)