Religious Perspectives

In its 1997 report on human cloning, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) paid significant attention to the views and concerns of the world's religious communities and their traditions. The NBAC recognized that various religions have supported critical and sustained reflection on issues relevant to assessing human cloning, including the relation of humanity to the natural world, the significance of marriage and procreation in human life, the status of the embryo, and others. For that reason, the NBAC commissioned a report, "Cloning Human Beings: Religious Perspectives on Human Cloning," and took testimony from distinguished scholars of various religious traditions. Drawing on the NBAC report, the testimony given before the commission, and other sources, this entry offers a thumbnail sketch of how four world religions understand the issues raised by reproductive human cloning, for the most part ignoring matters of "therapeutic cloning." Of particular interest are the issues of how cloned children are likely to be valued in contrast to children born of "natural" means; the relevance of parental motives; the possibility of cloning for the purposes of securing biological material for therapeutic use, for example, bone marrow for ill siblings; the issue of destroying embryos; and the notions of "playing God" and "cheating death."

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