Missouri Right to Life Policy on Human Cloning
Missouri Right to Life is opposed to human cloning.
At the time of this writing (September, 2009), the only successful method of cloning humans has been somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). However, the principles involved do not depend on the exact procedure that is utilized. Therefore, “cloning” is used in a broader sense, with the meaning that was used by the President’s Council on Bioethics in 2002:
In the sense relevant here, “cloning” is a form of asexual reproduction (parthenogenesis is another), the production of a new individual not by the chance union of egg and sperm but by some form of replication of the genetic makeup of a single existing or previously existing individual. (In biological or functional terms, the core of sexual reproduction is not bodily intercourse but the fusion of male and female germ cells; thus IVF, though it takes place outside the body, is—biologically speaking—a form of sexual reproduction.)
Cloning is the activity of producing a clone, an individual or group of individuals genetically virtually identical to the precursor that is being “replicated.”
President’s Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry, pp. 42-43 (July, 2002) (internal footnotes omitted).
Human cloning is an abuse of human rights. There is no intent on the part of those who engage in cloning to allow the human beings produced by cloning to live. This would be what the cloners condemn as “reproductive cloning.” Rather, the intent of the cloners is to end the lives of human beings produced by cloning after harvesting stem cells from them or performing some other experimental research on them. This is exploitation of helpless young human beings for the benefit of other human beings, and it is wrong. To destroy young human beings for their cells, tissues, or organs is nothing but medical cannibalism. Because this is what cloning represents in current practice, Missouri Right to Life opposes it.
The term, “living wills,” is one of the most misunderstood phrases in the English language. Everyone thinks it refers to a document that says, “When things get bad enough for me, stop treatment and let me die.” Unfortunately, very few people agree on when things become “bad enough” for the “living will” to kick in. Even if the document spells it out, health care professionals often think they know what a “living will” provides without reading it, so conditions and stipulations in a patient’s “living will” often are ignored by those who are supposed to abide by them.
Missouri law does not provide for “living wills,” but for “declarations concerning death-prolonging procedures,” “advance directives,” and “durable powers of attorney for health care.”
The first type of document, “declarations concerning death-prolonging procedures,” becomes effective only when the declarant’s condition is terminal and the declarant does not have the capacity to make health-care decisions. Sec. 459.025, RSMo. It is designed to allow a patient to forgo “death prolonging procedures,” which are defined as “any medical procedure or intervention which, when applied to a patient, would serve only to prolong artificially the dying process and where, in the judgment of the attending physician pursuant to usual and customary medical standards, death will occur within a short time whether or not such procedure or intervention is utilized. Death-prolonging procedure shall not include the administration of medication or the performance of medical procedure deemed necessary to provide comfort, care or to alleviate pain nor the performance of any procedure to provide nutrition or hydration.” Sec. 459.010(3), RSMo.
Missouri Right to Life finds nothing objectionable in such declarations, for they allow for a natural death without shortening life. They are rarely used, however, because many people are told that they do not allow for the exercise of control in enough circumstances.
“Advance directives” are more like the documents that most people think of when the terms “living will” comes up, and they are commonly provided as part of estate planning packages offered by lawyers.. The Missouri Bar and other organizations sponsor certain forms for living wills. Often, the basic principle that appears to govern such documents is that if a person is unconscious for a long enough period of time so that doctors and/or relatives give up hope of recovery, that is the time to end treatment. Furthermore, they address tube feeding and hydration by tube as types of treatment that may be ended along with any other treatment, thus directing death to be caused by dehydration and/or
Advance directives satisfy the requirement of Missouri law that a person may be deprived of medical care and treatment that would keep the person alive when unconscious only if there is clear and convincing evidence that the person stated in advance his or her wishes so to be deprived. Cruzan
- Harmon, 760 S.W.2d 408 (Mo. 1988). A properly-signed advance directive can provide such clear and convincing evidence.
Not all advance directives are unethical. An ethical advance directive may be drawn for a person who respects the nature of life as a gift and refuses the presumption of thinking that the gift can be terminated at will when pain becomes too much or life has become “useless.”
The use of advance directives is futile if health care professionals do not pay attention to them, as happens all too often. As a practical matter, it is important to find a person who will advocate for a patient with the health care system. Such a person is most often an “attorney in fact” in legal parlance or a “health care agent” in ordinary language. In Missouri, the legal document that appoints this agent is a durable power of attorney for health care. See sections 404.800-.872, RSMo. This document may contain a reference to the advance directive or it can overlap the advance directive by including some of the same conditions. It is recommended that both an advance directive and a durable power of attorney for health care be used to provide for one’s future care based on ethical, pro-life principles.