ANALYSIS: Stearns' Congressional Human Cloning Fairy Tale "Ban"; New Age and Transhumanist Legislation for "Converging Technologies"?


1 Quoting from article by Rick Weiss, "To start with, people need a fairy tale," said Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand." In Rick Weiss, "Stem Cells An Unlikely Therapy for Alzheimer's: Reagan-Inspired Zeal For Study Continues", Washington Post, June 10, 2004, A03, at: McKay, along with cloning researchers Irving Weissman and Ann McLaren, recently presented their work to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, see [Back]

2  See the development of the erroneous term "pre-embryo" in the early works of, e.g., Richard McCormick, S.J., "Who or what is the preembryo?", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1:1 (1991). In this paper McCormick draws heavily on the work of frog embryologist Clifford Grobstein, as well as from "an unpublished study of a research group of the Catholic Health Association entitled 'The Status and Use of the Human Preembryo', (p. 14).

The influence of the McCormick/Grobstein term "pre-embryo" was (and still is) widespread even among Catholic scholars. In addition to the works of McCormick and Grobstein, see acceptance of the term "pre-embryo" also in: Andre E. Hellegers, "Fetal development," in Thomas A. Mappes and Jane S. Zembatty (eds.), Biomedical Ethics, (New York: Macmillan, 1981); Hellegers, "Fetal development", Theological Studies (1970), 31:3-9; Charles E. Curran, "Abortion: Contemporary debate in philosophical and religious ethics", in W. T. Reich (ed.), Encyclopedia of Bioethics 1 (London: The Free Press, 1978), pp. 17-26; Kevin Wildes, "Book Review: Human Life: Its Beginning and Development" (L'Harmattan, Paris: International Federation of Catholic Universities, 1988); Carlos Bedate and Robert Cefalo, "The zygote: To be or not be a person", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:6:641; Robert C. Cefalo, "Book Review: Embryo Experimentation, Peter Singer et al (eds.); 'Eggs, embryos and ethics'", Hastings Center Report (1991), 21:5:41; Mario Moussa and Thomas A. Shannon, "The search for the new pineal gland: Brain life and personhood", The Hastings Center Report (1992), 22:3:30-37; Carol Tauer, The Moral Status of the Prenatal Human (Doctoral Dissertation in Philosophy; Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 1981) (Sister Tauer's dissertation mentor was Richard McCormick; she later went on to become the ethics co-chair of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel 1994); C. Tauer, "The tradition of probabilism and the moral status of the early embryo", in Patricia B. Jung and Thomas A. Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (New York: Crossroad, 1988), pp. 54-84; Lisa S. Cahill, "Abortion, autonomy, and community", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (1988), pp. 85-98; Joseph F. Donceel, "A liberal Catholic's view", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism (1988), pp. 48-53; H. Tristram Engelhardt, The Foundations of Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 111; William A. Wallace, "Nature and human nature as the norm in medical ethics", in Edmund D. Pellegrino, John P. Langan and John Collins Harvey (eds.), Catholic Perspectives on Medical Morals (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 1989), pp. 23-53; Norman Ford, When Did I Begin? (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 298; Antoine Suarez, "Hydatidiform moles and teratomas confirm the human identity of the preimplantation embryo", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1990), 15:627-635; Thomas J. Bole, III, "Metaphysical accounts of the zygote as a person and the veto power of facts", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:647-653; Bole, "Zygotes, souls, substances, and persons", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1990), 15:637-652.

See also: See Richard McCormick's testimony in The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research; Report and Recommendations; Research on the Fetus; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1975, pp. 34-35; McCormick, How Brave a New World? (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press), p. 76; McCormick, "Proxy consent in the experimentation situation", Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (1974), 18:2-20; Paul Ramsey's testimony in The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research; Report and Recommendations; Research on the Fetus; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1975, pp. 35-36.

The use of the term "pre-embryo" has been quite widespread for decades -- nationally and internationally. In addition to the Catholic scholars who accepted the use of the term "pre-embryo" as noted above, a partial list of secular bioethics writers who also accepted the use of the term in these debates includes: Paul Ramsey, "Reference points in deciding about abortion" in J.T. Noonan (ed.), The Morality of Abortion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 60-100, esp. p. 75; John Robertson, "Extracorporeal embryos and the abortion debate", Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy (1986), 2;53;53-70; Robertson, "Symbolic issues in embryo research", The Hastings Center Report (1995, Jan./Feb.), 37-38; Robertson, "The case of the switched embryos", The Hastings Center Report (1995), 25:6:13-24; Howard W. Jones, "And just what is a preembryo?", Fertility and Sterility 52:189-91; Jones and C. Schroder, "The process of human fertilization: Implications for moral status", Fertility and Sterility (August 1987), 48:2:192; Clifford Grobstein, "The early development of human embryos", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1985), 10:213-236; also, Science and the Unborn (New York: Basic Books, 1988), p. 61; Michael Tooley, "Abortion and infanticide", in The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion, M. Cohen et al (eds.) (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 59 and 64; Peter Singer and Helga Kuhse, "The ethics of embryo research", Law, Medicine and Health Care (1987),14:13-14; Kuhse and Singer, "For sometimes letting - and helping - die", Law, Medicine and Health Care (1986), 3:40:149-153; Kuhse and Singer, Should The Baby Live? The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Oxford University Press, 1985), p.138; Singer, "Taking life: Abortion", in Practical Ethics (London: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 122-123; Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, Stephen Buckle, Karen Dawson, Pascal Kasimba (eds.), Embryo Experimentation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990); R.M. Hare, "When does potentiality count? A comment on Lockwood," Bioethics (1988), 2:3:214; Michael Lockwood, "When does life begin?", in Michael Lockwood (ed.), Moral Dilemma's in Modern Medicine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 10; Hans-Martin Sass, "Brain life and brain death: A proposal for normative agreement," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (1989), 14:45-59; Michael Lockwood, "Warnock versus Powell (and Harradine): When does potentiality count?" Bioethics (1988), 2:3:187-213.

See also the use of the term "pre-embryo" in many national and international documents (a small sample): Ethics Advisory Board (1979) Report and Conclusions: HEW Support of Research Involving Human In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer, Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, p. 101; National Institutes of Health Human Embryo Research Panel Meetings (Washington, D.C.: NIH, 1994), Feb. 2 meeting, pp. 27, 31, 50-80, 85-87, 104-106; in the Feb. 3, 1994 meeting, pp. 6-55; April 11 meeting, pp. 23-41, 9-22. See also, Dame Mary Warnock, Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilization and Embryology, (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1984), pp. 27 and 63; British House of Lords, "Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001"; Commonwealth of Australia, Select Senate Committee on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill, (Canberra, Australia: Official Hansard Report, Commonwealth Government Printer, 1986); Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, On the Use of Human Embryos and Foetuses for Diagnostic, Therapeutic, Scientific, Industrial and Commercial Purposes, Recommendation 1046, 1986; and On the Use of Human Embryos and Foetuses in Scientific Research, Recommendation 1000, 1989; Ethics Committee of the American Fertility Society (AFS), "Ethical Considerations of the New Reproductive Technologies", Fertility and Sterility (1986), 46:27S. See also Jonsen, esp. Chapters 4 and 12. [Back]

3  On the contrary, twinning can take place after 14-days, which fact itself negates any scientific legitimacy of a "pre-embryo": "[O]ther events are possible after this time [segmentation -- 14 days] which indicate that the notion of "irreversible individuality" may need some review if it is to be considered as an important criterion in human life coming "to be the individual human being it is ever thereafter to be". There are two conditions which raise questions about the adequacy of this notion: conjoined twins, sometimes known as Siamese twins, and fetus-in-fetu. ... Although conjoined twins and fetus-in-fetu have rarely been documented, the possibility of their occurring raises several points related to the notion of irreversible individuality. Conjoined twins arise from the twinning process occurring after the primitive streak has begun to form, that is, beyond 14 days after fertilization, or, in terms of the argument from segmentation, beyond the time at which irreversible individuality is said to exist. ... Similar reasoning leads to the same confusion in the case of fetus-in-fetu. ... One case recorded and studied in detail showed that the engulfed twin had developed to the equivalent of four months gestation and consisted of brain, bones, nerve tissue, muscle and some rudimentary organs. Microscopic study showed that engulfment had occurred at about four weeks after fertilization, in terms of the argument for segmentation long after the time when it is claimed that individuality is resolved." [Her reference is: Yasuda, Y., Mitomori, T., Matsurra, A. and Tanimura, T., "Fetus-in-fetu: report of a case", Teratology 31 (1985), 337-41.] [Karen Dawson, "Segmentation and moral status", in Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, Stephen Buckle, Karen Dawson, and Pascal Kasimba, Embryo Experimentation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 57-59].

See also Moore and Persaud, 1998: "Late division of early embryonic cells, such as division of the embryonic disc during the second week, results in MZ twins that are in one amniotic sac and one chorionic sac." (p. 159); " ... If the embryonic disk does not divide completely, or adjacent embryonic discs fuse, various types of conjoined MZ twins may form. ... the incidence of conjoined (Siamese) twins is 1 in 50,000- 100,000 births." (p. 161) "... Partial duplication at an early stage and attempted duplication from 2 weeks onward (when bilateral symmetry has become manifest) would result in conjoined twins." (p. 30); O'Rahilly and Muller, 1994: "Once the primitive streak has appeared at about 13 days, splitting that involves the longitudinal axis of the embryo would be incomplete and would result in conjoined twins." (p. 30); O'Rahilly and Muller, 2001: "Similarly, after the appearance of the primitive streak and notochordal process, any attempt at longitudinal division would be incomplete and would result in conjoined [Siamese] twins." (p. 55)

For the scientific explanation of "twinning" using references from both human embryology and human molecular genetics textbooks, see Irving, "Playing God by manipulating man: Facts and frauds of human cloning" (October 4, 2003), at:, and at [Back]

4  For scientific refutations of the false term "pre-embryo" and its "pre-embryo substitutes", see, e.g., articles by C. Ward Kischer, a Ph.D. human embryologist who has taught human embryology for over 30 years: "Stem cell research, Ron Reagan, and John Kerry",; "Why Hatch is wrong on human life",; "The corruption of the science of Human Embryology",; "There is no such thing as a pre-embryo",; "Cloning, stem cell research, and some historic parallels,; "The beginning of life and the establishment of the continuum", in Kischer and Irving, The Human Development Hoax: Time To Tell The Truth!, (Clinton Township, MI: Gold Leaf Press, 1995 and extensively revised and expanded second edition by co-authors (1997), pp. 4-13; "When Does Human Life Begin? The Final Answer -- A human embryologist speaks out about socio-legal issues involving the human embryo". See also article by Sarah Sexton, "New Reproductive and Genetic Technologies: International versus National Campaign Issues", in The Geneticization of Health (p. 8), presentation to International IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) - Kongress Medizin und Gewissen (Medicine and Conscience), Erlangen, Germany, 24-27 May 2001,

See also Irving articles refuting both scientifically and philosophically the false term "pre-embryo" indexed at PubMed: "NIH and human embryo research revisited: what is wrong with this picture?", Linacre Q. 2000 May ;67(2):8-22, PMID: 11817406,; "'New age' embryology text books: 'Pre-embryo', 'pregnancy' and abortion counseling: Implications for fetal research", Linacre Quarterly May 1994, 61(2):42-62,; "Testimony before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel", Linacre Q. 1994 Nov;61(4):82-9, PMID: 11652834,; "Quality assurance auditors: how to survive between a rock and a hard place", Qual Assur. 1994 Mar;3(1):33-52, PMID: 7804617,; "The impact of "scientific misinformation" on other fields: philosophy, theology, biomedical ethics, public policy", Account Res. 1993;2(4):243-72, PMID: 11652144,; "Which ethics for science and public policy?", Account Res. 1993;3(2-3):77-100, PMID: 11652298, All of these articles are also accessible in full on-line at

See also, Irving: "Fake Science and Scary Ethics of Cloning" (August 24, 2004), British Medical Journal Rapid Response to "Book Review: A Clone of Your Own? The Science and Ethics of Cloning", by Trefor Jenkins,; "The Kettles calling the Pots fake: "When is cloning not 'cloning'?"; When both sides play politics -- with human lives" (July 27, 2004),; "Playing God by manipulating man: Facts and frauds of human cloning",, and; "A ONE ACT PLAY: The early human embryo: 'Scientific' myths / scientific facts: Implications for ethics and public policy", Medicine and Human Dignity's "International Bioethics Conference: 'Conceiving the embryo', Brussels, Belgium (October 20, 2002), (in press, and CD-Rom),, and; "Requested testimony on Canadian Bill C-13 ('Assisted Human Reproduction Act')", House of Commons (December 9, 2002),, and; "Analysis: Canadian Bill C-56",, and; "Analysis: Stem cells that could become embryos: Implications for the NIH Guidelines on stem cell research, the NIH stem cell report, informed consent, and patient safety in clinical trials" (July 22, 2001),; "University Faculty for Life: Submission of Concern to the Canadian CIHR Re the 'Human Stem Cell Research Recommendations 2001'", submitted to Dr. Alan Bernstein, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Working Group on Stem Cell Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (June 3, 2001), at:, and; "University Faculty for Life: Letter of Concern to Sen. Brownback and Congressman Weldon Re the 'Human Cloning Bill 2001'", (May 27, 2001), at: /; "University Faculty for Life: Submission of Concern to the British House of Lords Re the 'Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001' submitted to Tony Rawsthorne, Select Committee, House of Lords, London (June 1, 2001), (acknowledgment), and (full text); "When does a human being begin? 'Scientific' myths and scientific facts", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 1999, 19:3/4:22-47,, and; "UFL submission to NBAC Report: Research Involving Human Biological Materials: Ethical Issues and Policy Guidance", VOLUME I Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission Rockville, Maryland August 1999 The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), acknowledged Appendix E, p. 111; Invited Congressional testimony (oral and written), "The immediate product of human cloning is a human being: Claims to the contrary are scientifically wrong", Scientific Panel on "Cloning: Legal, Medical, Ethical, and Social Issues", Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health and Environment of the Committee on Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, Room 2125, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (February 12, 1998); also in Linacre Quarterly (May 1999), 66:2:26-40,; "Cloning: When word games kill", (May 13, 1998), at:; "Academic fraud and conceptual transfer in bioethics: Abortion, human embryo research and psychiatric research", in Joseph W. Koterski (ed.), Life And Learning IV (Washington, D.C.: University Faculty for Life, 1995), pp. 193-215,, and; "Scientific and philosophical expertise: An evaluation of the arguments on 'personhood'", Linacre Quarterly February 1993, 60:1:18-46,; and Irving doctoral dissertation on this issue, Philosophical and Scientific Analysis of the Nature of the Early Human Embryo (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 1991). [Back]

5 "Testimony of Michael D. West, Ph.D., President & CEO, Advanced Cell Technology, Inc." (July 18, 2001), at: [Back]

6  See, O'Rahilly and Muller (2001); ... the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments, and ends with the intermingling of maternal and paternal chromosomes at metaphase of the first mitotic division of the zygote. The zygote is characteristic of the last phase of fertilization and is identified by the first cleavage spindle. It is a unicellular embryo. (p. 19)

Moore and Persaud (1998): Zygote: This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). The expression "fertilized ovum" refers to a secondary oocyte that is impregnated by a sperm; when fertilization is complete, the oocyte becomes a zygote. (p. 2)

Larsen (1997): ... [W]e begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual. (p. 1)

O'Rahilly and Muller (2001): Although life is a continuous process, fertilization ... is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte. (p. 31)

Moore and Persaud (1998): ... The embryo's chromosomes sex is determined at fertilization by the kind of sperm (X or Y) that fertilizes the ovum; hence it is the father rather than the mother whose gamete determines the sex of the embryo. (p. 37); Carlson (1999): The sex of the future embryo is determined by the chromosomal complement of the spermatozoon. (If the sperm contains 22 autosomes and an X chromosome, the embryo will be a genetic female, and if it contains 22 autosomes and a Y chromosome, the embryo will be a male.) ... Through the mingling of maternal and paternal chromosomes, the zygote is a genetically unique product of chromosomal reassortment, which is important for the viability of any species. (p. 32)

O'Rahilly Muller (1994): The embryonic period proper ... occupies the first 8 postovulatory weeks (i.e., timed from the last ovulation) ... The fetal period extends from 8 weeks to birth. (p. 55); Carlson 1994: After the eighth week of pregnancy the period of organogenesis (embryonic period) is largely completed and the fetal period begins. (p. 407)

O'Rahilly and Muller (2001): ... Fertilization takes place normally in the ampulla (lateral end) of the uterine tube. (p. 31); Moore and Persaud (1998): The usual site of fertilization is the ampulla of the uterine tube [fallopian tube], its longest and widest part. If the oocyte is not fertilized here, it slowly passes along the tube to the uterus, where it degenerates and is resorbed. Although fertilization may occur in other parts of the tube, it does not occur in the uterus. ... Human development begins when a oocyte is fertilized. (p. 34); Carlson (1999): "Human pregnancy begins with the fusion of an egg and a sperm, but a great deal of preparation [recedes this event. First both male and female sex cells must pass through a long series of changes (gametogenesis) that convert them genetically and phenotypically into mature gametes, which are capable of participating in the process of fertilization. Next, the gametes must be released from the gonads and make their way to the upper part of the uterine tube, where fertilization normally takes place. ... Finally, the fertilized egg, now properly called an embryo, must make its way into the uterus ... .". (p. 2); ... Fertilization age: dates the age of the embryo from the time of fertilization. (p. 23) ... In the female, sperm transport begins in the upper vagina and ends in the ampulla of the uterine tube [fallopian tube] where the spermatozoa make contact with the ovulated egg. (p. 27); Larsen (1997): In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual. ... Fertilization takes place in the oviduct [not the uterus]... resulting in the formation of a zygote containing a single diploid nucleus. (p. 1); "These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development. (p. 17) [Back]

7 Irving Weissman, M.D., "A Message from the Director of the Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Stanford", in The Stanford Report (Jan. 22, 2003), [Back]

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