The British Government has defended its decision to move towards an easing of the ban on human cloning, despite condemnation by the Vatican.
    The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper criticised the decision, saying it was too dangerous a field to venture into.
    MPs and peers are to be given a free vote on whether the law should be relaxed to permit therapeutic cloning. The decision was taken after an expert group headed by the Government's chief medical officer Professor Liam Donaldson concluded that the potential benefits outweighed the ethical objections.
    As a safeguard the Government has said it plans to bring in new legislation to outlaw reproductive cloning - the creation of duplicate human beings.
    But the Vatican newspaper said: "Even now they reaffirm the ban on human cloning for reproductive purposes.
    "But will it always be so? Once the door is open to human cloning ... won't there be those who find strategic motives to justify even this second possibility?"
    The Vatican newspaper also criticised the 14 day age limit, saying it "split embryo division into two times, as if it were a soccer match".
    "A human is an individual before 14 days and after 14 days," L'Osservatore Romano said.
21 Aug 00

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