The ban, suggested by President's Council on Bioethics, of certain reproductive technologies are laudable but not enough, and should be extended to include a full ban on cloning and embryonic research, said the U.S. bishops.
In a statement, Cardinal William Keeler said today's report by the council "deserves attention from all concerned about technological abuse of human life."
The chairman of the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities praised the council's support for banning the creation of human/animal hybrids; placing human embryos in the bodies of animals, or in women's wombs for purposes other than a live birth; and the buying, selling or patenting of human embryos.
He also called on Congress to strengthen the council's recommendations for monitoring in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics to prevent harm to women and children.
But he pointed out that two of the council's recommendations raise serious questions. The first is its support for banning the use of embryos in research only after a certain number of days in their development. In a letter to the council, the cardinal argued that this point is arbitrary and does not recognize that human life begins at the point of conception.
"The decisive fact is that human life is a continuum from the one-celled stage onward," he said. "Any cutoff point after this event is arbitrary – providing no principled reason not to extend the time limit for destructive research, once the precedent is established."
The cardinal did not think the ban on cloning went far enough. The council only lent its support for a ban on "conceiving a child" using cloning procedures.
Laws against human cloning, said the cardinal, should not be based on whether researchers intend to place the resulting embryo in a woman's womb in order for her to bear a child, but should simply ban the cloning procedure.
"Human cloning is wrong because it treats human life as an object of manufacture – not because a researcher, having created the embryonic human, may "intend" to allow him or her to survive," he said in the report. "These procedures should simply be banned."