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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Cloning doctor acknowledges debt to Blair

9 March 2001

Cloning doctor acknowledges debt to Blair Westminster, 9 March 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has reacted with concern and sadness that Professor Severino Antinori plans to press ahead with reproductive human cloning, and has blamed Tony Blair's government for the development. Mr John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, commented: "When Tony Blair's government made it known that it would push through legislation to authorise research on cloned human embryos for so-called therapeutic purposes, pro-life groups and a host of eminent scientists warned that this would inevitably lead to reproductive cloning. Tragically, this prediction now appears to be coming true even sooner than many of us had feared. "When the British parliament voted to authorise research into so-called therapeutic cloning, it did so in blatant contravention of international consensus. Despite the assurances of ministers that the research would not lead to reproductive cloning, Professor Antinori has thanked Tony Blair for making it possible to go ahead with his own plans. Without Britain's lead on therapeutic cloning, Professor Antinori's plans for reproductive cloning would not have been feasible. "Reproductive cloning is an extremely sinister and dangerous development. It will become increasingly difficult to stop Professor Antinori and others creating babies to order. It will lead to the creation of a genetic underclass of cloned humans who will be treated as second-class citizens--commodities to be acquired and used rather than individuals with rights. "It will also be impossible to prevent the proliferation of the new technology. The nightmare scenario of industrialists, dictators or warped intellectuals trying to populate the future with copies of themselves, or with people bred to fulfil menial roles in society, is growing closer every day. "Yet every cloned human being will be an individual in his or her own right, with feelings and concerns which we have no right to neglect. The psychological impact of being a genetic copy of someone else cannot be underestimated. "Just as with so-called therapeutic cloning, reproductive cloning will involve the destruction of countless human embryos in the process. Moreover, so-called therapeutic cloning is just as wrong as reproductive cloning. Both entail the creation of new and individual human persons. "It was revealed yesterday that the House of Lords select committee which is to consider the issues arising from destructive research on cloned human embryos contains only two peers who voted against the legislation. Any hope that the committee's membership would be balanced has fallen foul of the government's determination to suppress opposition to human cloning. However, we intend to work hard to redress the imbalance by providing peers with authoritative medical and scientific evidence." Mr Smeaton concluded: "All human cloning is a blatant denial of human dignity. It is to the great shame of our country's leaders that Britain has taken the lead in this repugnant technology."

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