January 11, 1998 in Nation/World

Clinton Conveys Deep Concerns On Human Clones In Radio Address

Katharine Q. Seelye New York Times
 

President Clinton, reacting to statements by an Illinois physicist that he intended to clone a human being, said Saturday that mainstream scientists viewed the practice as “untested and unsafe, and morally unacceptable.” The president said it should not be done.

In his weekly radio address, which he taped here, Clinton said he was concerned by “the profoundly troubling news” that Dr. Richard Seed, the physicist, wanted to clone a human.

“Scientific advancement does not occur in a moral vacuum,” Clinton said. “Personally, I believe that human cloning raises deep concerns, given our cherished concepts of faith and humanity.”

After Scottish scientists announced last February that they had cloned a sheep, Clinton banned the use of federal money for cloning humans. He also appointed a commission to study the risks of such a venture. In June, he proposed a bill to ban the cloning of human beings for at least five years.

“It’s now clearer than ever the legislation is exactly what is needed,” the president said. “The vast majority of scientists and physicians in the private sector have refrained from using these techniques improperly and have risen up to condemn any plans to do so. But we know it’s possible for some to ignore the consensus of their colleagues and proceed without regard for our common values.”

California is the only state so far that has banned the practice. Some legal experts said that banning the practice would be unconstitutional because it would interfere with reproductive freedom.

Seed has said that he expected up to 10,000 infertile couples in the United States to try cloning. This figure represents about 15 percent of those who cannot conceive through alternative methods, like test-tube fertilization.

The physicist said that if he were prevented from cloning in the United States, he would open a clinic offshore. But other scientists said they doubted that Seed had the financial resources and sufficient medical technique to successfully clone a human being.


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