April 2, 1997

Threatened Bans on Human Cloning Research Could Hamper Advances

JAMA. 1997;277(13):1023-1026. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540370013005

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A DEMURE-looking Finn Dorset sheep named Dolly—the first mammal to be cloned from a single adult cell—has touched off both a frenzy of media-spun Frankensteinian scenarios involving cloned human beings and a rush by politicians to propose bans on human cloning research.

News of the accomplishment, recently described by Ian Wilmut, PhD, Keith H.S. Campbell, DPhil, and colleagues at the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics, near Edinburgh, Scotland, (Nature 1997;385:810-813), has, predictably, ignited a vigorous debate about the ethics of cloning human beings that recalls previous controversies surrounding such issues as human embryo research, and in vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies.

The level of anxiety and concern prompted by the new reports is nowhere more apparent than in the rush by various public officials around the globe to propose legislation to outlaw cloning human beings at the very least and in some cases impose what many scientists consider overly