Friday, March 14, 1997
Cardinal O’Connor presented an apocalyptic vision of cloning yesterday, warning about a world that might use armies of drones to fight wars or become slaves.
“If you just say they are expendable, we can just keep reproducing them, give them a gun, whatever might be the weapon of the day, and send them out. If they get killed, they get killed,” O’Connor said.
Earlier, O’Connor told lawmakers that though he would urge scientists not to cross the ethical line and clone human beings, he said they should not to be too hasty to ban research completely.
Much of the genetic research necessary for human cloning also is necessary for the cure of diseases as well as other scientific advances, the archbishop of New York said at a hearing of the state Senate Investigations Committee in Manhattan.
Scientists, ethicists and other clergy were invited to testify before the hearing, chaired by State Sen. Roy Goodman (R-Manhattan).
“The most fundamental change is that you could have something, whatever you are going to call it, without any parentage, without any social context, without anyone assuming responsibility or accountability,” O’Connor said of human clones.
He recommended that the Legislature allow scientific research that stops just short trying to create a human being.
Asked where he would draw the line, he replied, “I’m not a scientist and only a scientist could say okay, you do this in the Petrie dish or in the test tube or whatever may be and you can go as far as you have to go in genetic research without trying to manufacture a human being, but I don’t know what that point would be.”
O’Connor’s remarks added to the debate unleashed by the announcement last month that a Scottish doctor had successfully cloned a sheep, the now famous Dolly, the first mammal ever cloned from an adult.
That news was quickly followed by a report that American researchers had produced two clones of a rhesus monkey.
President Clinton subsequently put a temporary ban on the use of government money for any research into human cloning.
State Sen. John Marchi (R-S.I.) recently introduced legislation that would make the cloning of human beings a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Scientists such as Nobelist Joshua Lederberg of Rockefeller University testified that a ban would be clumsy, heavy-handed and unenforceable, while others said that research in this area is sorely needed.