ROME—A day after researchers meeting in Rome vowed to clone babies, an Italian lawmaker condemned them as “Frankenstein doctors” and urged parliament to ratify an international pact banning human cloning.
A prominent cardinal also condemned the project, as did the head of Italy’s national committee on bioethics.
Giovanni Bianchi of the Popular Party, part of the governing coalition, said the lower House should ratify an international agreement banning human cloning when it meets on Wednesday.
Bianchi was highly critical of the cloning team’s research conference in Rome on Friday, which attracted a huge amount of publicity.
He described the members of the team, who are trying to portray cloning as a fertility treatment, as “Frankenstein” doctors and said the conference was called with “one eye on a scoop and the other, obviously, on business.”
Italy has no law against human cloning. The international ban, already ratified by the Italian Senate, is part of a protocol to the European Council’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
The council calls the protocol the first and only binding international pact on cloning. Five of the council’s 43 member nations have ratified it.
The cloning team is led by Panos Zavos, a reproduction researcher who resigned earlier this month from his longtime post at the University of Kentucky, and includes Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori, famous for helping women past menopause conceive.
Antinori has said that a human would be cloned within a year.
The team said Friday it planned to produce the babies in a Mediterranean county, but did not say which one. On Saturday, the ANSA news agency quoted Antinori as saying it would “very probably” be Israel. The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel said Saturday the venue would be in Caesarea, an Israeli coastal resort.
The cloning team includes Israeli researcher Avi Ben-Abraham, who insisted Friday that Judaism is more favorable to cloning than Roman Catholicism. The Vatican flatly opposes cloning.
Antinori was quoted by ANSA as saying he would seek “political and scientific asylum” in Israel if hostility to his project continued in Italy.
Antinori was not available to comment on the ANSA report.
Giovanni Berlinguer, the head of Italy’s national committee on bioethics, said Saturday that human cloning would be “inadmissible,” both on scientific and ethical grounds.
The Milan archbishop also joined the chorus of condemnations, saying Saturday a person cannot be fabricated through technology.”
Human being, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said, has an “innate and natural” dignity, which should “not be violated in any way.”
The cloning team has portrayed their project as an attempt to help infertile couples and tried to avoid ethical questions. It claims it has been flooded by infertile couples who want to have children through cloning.
Researchers trying to clone animals have reported that many of their
attempts have ended in disaster, with monster-like creations and
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