SOC: More genetic tech protests
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 09:48:14 EDT -
9-Aug-99 -- EWTN Feature Story

In the shadow of the 124-year-old Worcester State [mental] Hospital, which features a clock tower that looks as if it might have come from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, an institution called Advance Cell Therapeutics (ACT) is growing human clones. On Sunday afternoon, August 8, over 60 protestors gathered at the entrance to the Bioresearch Technology Park, home of ACT, to expose experiments they call ghoulish.

Holding signs and handing out informational literature to passing motorists at the busy corner, the group hoped to bring public attention to the cloning and cross-species experiments done by ACT.

The two-hour demonstration, organized by the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, of the Washington DC based Christian Defense Coalition, was the first demonstration in the nation against privately funded human cloning. Mahoney said, "They are growing human beings to experiment on and then kill. This is no different than the behavior of the Nazi doctor Mengele or the fictitious Doctor Frankenstein."

Saying that their goal is to find a cure for maladies such as Parkinson's Disease, the scientists at ACT are cloning embryos that are part cow and part human. They insist they are not trying to make full-grown human clones or human-cow hybrids. ACT defends the research in part by assuring questioners that they destroy all human embryos by the time they are 14 days old.

In 1995 President Clinton banned the use of federal funds for the laboratory creation of human embryos to be harvested for medical purposes. ACT of Worcester, Massachusetts, and Geron Corporation. of Menlo Park, California have been able to clone humans by using private funds.

On August 9, a second demonstration in front of ACT was held during the Monday morning rush hour, catching the attention of passing commuters. Protestors say they were pleasantly surprised by the high number of passerby who encouraged them with a honk or a wave.

Among those present at the Worcester protest was Ken Reed, of Operation Rescue West, who is planning to organize a similar protest during the first week in October at the Menlo Park, California, facility of Geron Corporation. Reed said, "What I have learned over the past few days disgusts me. I am sure that once the American public finds out what is going on, they will not tolerate it."

Rev. Mahoney, who was joined in organizing the Worcester protest by Bill Cotter, director of Operation Rescue-Boston, said the group would stage another demonstration outside the Massachusetts state legislature in Boston on September 29. "We hope to introduce legislation on the state and federal level to ban human cloning," he said. He added that similar legislation should be introduced in every state.

Rev. Mahoney said, "Americans are very uncomfortable with human cloning. It is already illegal in Germany. Hopefully we can learn from history that the intention to bring healing can never justify such bizarre disregard for human life and morality."