05/22/2008, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Church: no to bioethics law, it permits sale of human eggs

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The revisions to the draft law, approved by parliament, provide "expense reimbursement" for those who donate human eggs. Scorching commentary from the bishops' commission for bioethics, which speaks of "an enormous step backward". In the meantime, the "pioneer of cloning" announces: four cloned puppies in good health.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The South Korean Church has forcefully condemned the revisions approved by parliament to the law in bioethics, which permit the "reimbursement of expenses" for those who agree to participate in cloning experiments, and open the way to the selling of human eggs.  A document published by the bioethics commission of the Korean bishops' conference states: "The change to the law represents an enormous step backward in the field of research ethics".

According to the head of the commission, Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, what the new draft law permits is "not much different from trade in eggs.  The formula of 'reimbursement for expenses' is merely a form of hypocrisy that serves to conceal the true intention of the researchers". Fr Remigio Lee Dong-ik, secretary of the commission, is of the same opinion, and tells UCANews: "The Catholic Church opposes any research that involves destruction of human embryos. This is killing, the taking of human life, besides which it violates human dignity, especially women's rights".

The law on bioethics was approved by the Korean government in January of 2005.  It prohibits human cloning for the purpose of reproduction, but permits research on embryos for medical treatments.  Last May 16, nonetheless, parliament approved the revisions to the text that permit the selling of eggs.  According to the South Korean health minister, the changes will be approved by the new president within 20 days, and will go into effect beginning next December.

In the meantime, the "pioneer of human cloning" Hwang Woo-suk has announced that he has successfully cloned five puppies, from the cells of the deceased dog Missy, the pet of business magnate John Sperling.  According to the veterinarian, known for his falsified research on human cloning, "four of the puppies are in excellent health, and represent an enormous step forward in the field of embryo research". Hwang was prohibited by the government from working on human embryos, after his research on human cloning was discredited by the international scientific community.  After a short break, the researcher decided to return to the laboratory, but "only" to work on animal embryos.

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