For Beneficence, Let Cloning for Research Continue

Leon Kass, chairman of the president's advisory council on bioethics, claims that "cloning represents a turning point in human history. ... It thus carries with it a number of troubling consequences for children, family, and society."1 It's notable that the only "consequences" Kass discusses are those of the "troubling" variety. Conspicuously absent are the positive aspects of this turning point: possible scientific breakthroughs, the chance for medical research to alleviate suffering.

The consideration of potential harms is crucial. But proscriptions of harm must be balanced by prescriptions for healing. One need not disagree with their conclusions to recognize that the majority's ethical reflection is guided almost exclusively by nonmaleficence, a careful guarding against harm. By contrast, concern for stewarding resources to improve human well-being, or beneficence, is demoted to a secondary consideration.

A 10-member majority of the Kass council opposes cloning-for-biomedical-research,...

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