The recent cloning of a sheep from a single adult cell opens the way to the cloning of other species, including human beings. Although no one can prevent scientific research and experimentation from proceeding in this direction, the question arises as to whether the United States government should ban or regulate this activity and provide it with public funding.
The world-wide body of Orthodox Churches adheres strictly to the view that human life is sacred: that each human being is created as a unique person “in the image of God.” Accordingly, the great majority of Orthodox ethicists will insist that all forms of eugenics, involving the manipulation of human genetic material for non-therapeutic purposes, are morally repugnant and detrimental to human life and welfare.
Various cloning techniques using animals have been developed over the past ten years, promising enhancement of human life through the creation of new drugs, proteins and other useful products. Such endeavors deserve public support and funding. The prospect of human cloning, however, raises the specter of the “slippery slope” in the most direct and ominous way. In a “fallen” world, where rights outweigh responsibilities, cloning techniques using human cells will inevitably lead to abuse: the commercialization of “prime” DNA, production of children for the purpose of providing “spare parts,” and movement toward creation of a “superior” class of human beings.
Moreover, scientists at present are unable to determine if a selected cell contains mutations or other defects that could produce crippling deformities or mental retardation in the cloned child
In light of these factors, the Orthodox Church in America urges emphatically that a government ban be imposed on all forms of experimentation to produce human clones and that government funding for such activity be denied. A moratorium on this activity is urgently needed.