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Vatican backs UN anti-cloning pact

The Vatican has lent its support to a treaty that completely bans human cloning, as United Nations members began two days of debate on the issue on Thursday.

Catholic News Agency reports that the Vatican delegation faced staunch opposition from the UK, which defended the use of human embryos for medical research.

The UN General Assembly's legal committee was meeting again on Friday to discuss two resolutions.

A draft resolution put forward by Costa Rica's called for a treaty banning all cloning. Belgium's draft calls for a treaty banning the cloning of babies but allowing countries to decide on using embryos for research.

Costa Rica's UN Ambassador Bruno Stagno Ugarte said his resolution already had 62 co-sponsors, including the United States. But while Britain's UN ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country was against human reproductive cloning, it could not support any attempt to ban or "unreasonably restrict" cloning for research purposes. Jones Parry says his nation is convinced of the benefits of therapeutic cloning.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's UN representative, said the distinction between reproductive and therapeutic cloning "seems specious" because they involve the same process and differ only in their goals.

"Both forms of cloning involve disrespect for the dignity of the human being," Migliore said. He said it is impossible to enforce a ban on one type of cloning while permitting another. He also argued that adult stem-cell research posed no ethical questions and had so far proved more promising than embryonic stem-cell research.

He noted that "the choice is not between science and ethics, but between science that is ethically responsible and science that is not."

"Thousands of lives have been saved by adult stem cells" and evidence shows that " that adult stem cell transplants are safe, and preliminary results suggest they will be able to help people with Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, heart damage and dozens of other conditions," said the archbishop.

Vatican says 'No' to cloning at UN assembly (Catholic News Agency 22/10/04)

UN debates human embryo cloning (ABC Radio PM 22/10/04)
Officially, at Least, Vatican Is Staying Above Election Fray (New York Times 24/10/04)
Vatican Appeals to U.N. to Promote Research With Adult Stem Cells (Zenit 22/10/04)
Statement of the Holy See on Human Cloning addressed to the United Nations (Zenit 22/10/04)
Statement by Archbishop Migliore On Cloning to 6th Committee of U.N. General Assembly (Zenit 22/10/04)
Split on Human Cloning Ban (Pew Forum/Washington Post 22/10/04)
Vatican Publishes Statement Opposing Embryonic Stem Cell Research (LifeSite 22/10/04)
Vatican urges UN ban on all human cloning (Catholic World News 22/10/04)
Cloning embryos for stem cells is ethically problematic (Vatican Information Service 22/10/04)
Vatican Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations

25 Oct 2004