Next week, one of the most important “life and death” debates ever will take place in the United States Senate — the debate over whether to prohibit the cloning of human beings.

Today (April 4, 2002), Bishop Robert J. Baker, the Catholic bishop of South Carolina, calls upon all citizens of South Carolina and upon our Senators Strom Thurmond and Ernest Hollings to protect human life in its very origins by supporting the passage into law of the Brownback/Landrieu Human Cloning Prohibition Act (S. 1899). The Brownback/Landrieu Bill prohibits all human cloning. Bishop Baker strongly supports its enactment. That Bill is identical to a bill already passed by the United States House of Representatives, by a 103 vote margin; and it has attracted the support of President George W. Bush.

In his letter to the United States Senate, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes:

“Creating human life in the laboratory by cloning should be condemned because it reduces human beings to mere products of a manufacturing technique. When cloning is done to attempt a live birth, the child is produced and wanted not for his or her own sake, but because he or she will carry traits that someone else values and wants to replicate. When cloning is done to pursue medical research, the reduction of human life to a mere instrument is even more complete, for a new human being is created solely to be destroyed for his or her cells and tissues. Even if medical benefits could be derived from such destruction, it is never morally permissible to achieve good ends through evil actions. Neither practice should be allowed in a society that claims to respect inherent human dignity.”

We do have alternatives to the cloning of human beings simply for the harvest of their embryonic stem cells. Stem cells can be taken from consenting adults, even from umbilical cords and placentas, and still have the potential to provide new human tissues for therapeutic use, but without the destruction of human life.

Unfortunately, two other Senate bills now pending, the Feinstein Bill, S. 1758, and the Harkin Bill, S 1893, pretend to prohibit human cloning, but, in fact, do not do so. Those two bills allow for unlimited cloning of human beings, if only for research purposes. But, those bills prohibit the implanting of such a cloned human embryo in a mother’s womb, thus prohibiting that child’s maturation, birth, and life. Those bills, thus, put our government and us in the position of requiring the killing of all such cloned human beings. If either one of those two bills were to pass, Congress would be making it a crime not to destroy – that is, not to kill — members of our human family, those cloned human embryos.

Our Declaration of Independence, written more than two hundred years ago, speaks of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” before making this historic assertion: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Bishop Baker calls upon Senators Thurmond and Hollings to oppose all such legislation that would permit the cloning of human beings, for research purposes, and then require taking the lives of such cloned and innocent human beings.

Bishop Robert J. Baker, Catholic Bishop of Charleston, reminds us of our civic duty to protect and preserve human life, and urges all of the citizens and the representatives of the State of South Carolina to reject all proposals that would allow for the cloning and bring about the killing of innocent human beings. Rather, Bishop Baker urges all to support the enactment of a genuine prohibition on all cloning of human beings – the bill offered by Senators Brownback and Landrieu — Senate Bill 1899.

Will you please consider communicating with your two senators to urge them to support the passage of Senate Bill 1899 and the defeat of Senate Bills 1758 and 1893. Telephone calls may be directed to the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or to their Charleston offices, Senator Thurmond at (843) 727-4282, his Washington Fax (843) 224-1300; Senator Hollings at (843) 727-4525, his Washington Fax (202) 224-4293. Ask for the particular senator’s office. When connected, explain that you are a constituent, politely convey your position against human cloning, and ask for a written response explaining the senator’s position.