Final Blog Post – Jemimah Kim

Good afternoon, esteemed members of Congress.

I appreciate your invitation and time to share my intellect on the continuation of the Emory in Atlanta Cloning Initiative research investigation. I sincerely believe that the Committee’s collection of insights from specialists in a variety of fields is the optimal approach to deciding if research into this reproductive technology should be continued. For those of you that do not know me, I am Dr. Jemimah Kim and I am the 17th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The views expressed throughout this testimony are my own, and are not representative of any official position of the National Institutes of Health. My proposed perspective, though, is not entirely personal but has been heavily influenced by not only an ethical approach but through religious and cultural perspectives that attempt to advocate for various communities throughout the United States.

In this testimony, I will argue for the cessation of funding for the Emory in Atlanta Cloning Initiative and their search for successful cloning techniques. Not only can this area of reproductive technology research be viewed as a complete violation of laws of nature, but it has significant potential to create more problems than it attempts to solve, assuming that cloning procedures can ever be successful. Along with questions regarding the technicalities of cloning procedures, the results of a procedure must be just as seriously considered before continuing experimentation. This testimony will focus on just a few of these questions that cloning produces, such as initial processes of experimentation, the dangers of predetermined genetic makeup of offspring, and the accepted kinship of the clone. Furthermore, this testimony will incorporate a variety of religious perspectives on the matter because of the large variety of religious communities that this technology will impact if continued. These communities turn to religious texts and figures that help form the fundamental, firm beliefs that these communities base many of their moral stances on, especially in situations regarding procreation and human life.

I have researched four of the most prominent religions in the United States and have maintained a focus in their perspectives on procreation. These four religions include Christianity, or most specifically Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, which have collectively been surveyed to comprise of more than one fourth of the U.S. population by Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center also produced survey results revealing that six of ten Americans say religion plays an important role in their life. Because of the importance of religion in a large portion of Americans, a look into religious perspectives and ethnographic studies on religion are significant contributions to be considered in an argument for the continuation of a procreative technology such as cloning. Consequently, some religious arguments have been weaved throughout this testimony so that I could propose a more all-inclusive argument.

Successful cloning has been proposed as an ideal way for both individuals and couples to have biological children if they are unable to do so independently or sexually. In this way, an individual could use their own genetic material to produce a being with the same exact genetic makeup as one’s self. While this process is quite interesting as a whole, its consequences include severe questions of kinship, originality, and “tempting fate.” Overall, a previous submission in 2002 from the President’s Council on Bioethics had established that cloning was unethical. Although this advice has been overlooked for the initial funding of the Emory Cloning Initiative, it is time that this research has been reviewed again for the sake of termination of a potentially harmful scientific quest.

The principles of the ethics of human research are inevitably compromised in the search for a perfected cloning method. Due to “high rates of morbidity and mortality in the cloning of other mammals,” the complicated cloning process applied to human subjects would be “extremely unsafe” and attempts to satisfy this inquiry would be highly unethical, even if the techniques were perfected in other mammals first. It was concluded by the Council in 2002 that “no ethical way to try to discover whether cloning-to-produce children can become safe, now or in the future” (“Human,” 2002). The Catholic Church’s strict policy against experimentation on research on all human life (embryo’s included) is a driving factor for the Church’s stance against cloning because “unless there is a moral certainty of not causing harm to the life or integrity of the unborn child and the mother,” medical research on such subjects cannot be conducted (“Instruction,” 1987). Even the legislative branch of Israel, the Knesset, has established and extended a ban on human reproductive cloning for the time being because of the unsafe procedures and unawareness of potential implications for cloning technology (Prainsack, 2006). The initial process for establishing safe cloning procedures are too dangerous and would cause too much collateral for a reproductive technology whose consequences still remain questionable.

If one were to hypothetically ignore the inevitable risks of continued experimentation for cloning success, the consequences of success in such a reproductive technology require an even more considerable amount of review. The positions against the process in general and the status of the individual are the most pressing factors to be considered.

From a Christian perspective, human children have naturally been designed and granted to couples, where both male and female contributions are necessary for the manifestation of a new life. Mores specifically, this gift has been granted to married couples, so one trying to reproduce on their own or without physical input from their partner should not be granted reproductive rights. This view focuses on the comprehensive process of cloning and the required components for reproductive success, or rather, the lack thereof. Because cloning reproduces an individual, it does not occur between a male and female nor is it required to occur between people holily united. The Catholic Church’s official statement on reproductive technology declares that “attempts or hypotheses for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through “twin fission,” cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity of both human procreation and of conjugal union” (“Instruction,” 1987). This published declaration emphasizes the importance of Natural Moral Law and the blessings that come from God as a fruit of marriage. Thus from the Catholic perspective, any attempt to reproduce artificially, more specifically via cloning, is prohibited. To attempt cloning processes as an alternative for procreation of biological offspring would go against what the Catholic Church has deemed acceptable due to marital status and the perceived Natural Moral Law.

A perspective on cloning from a Hindu perspective is relatively less direct and comprehensive but can sensibly result in similar stances. The term “Hinduism” in itself is misleading because of it reference to a widespread community that differs in many aspects aside from original geographic location (Bhattacharyya, 2006). Nevertheless, there are six important elements of Hindu that help produce religious decisions. These elements emphasize two focuses for a Hindu follower: societal good and the success and good of the individual. There is a focus on the individual through teachings of dharma and karma, as well a commitment to ahimsa or no harm. These teachings would support the termination of cloning research studies due to the potential harm for the mother and fetus. However, some may argue that this focus on the individual can be overridden by the importance of societal well-being that is also emphasized in the Hindu religion. Could this argument for the well-being of society be applied to increased care for those who already exist and are not being cared for like orphans? There are even parallels of adoption that can be derived from religious Hindu texts (Bhattacharyya, 2006). I am proposing that the Hindu faith would support the termination of cloning due to the potential harm to test subjects, animals and human alike, as well as the potential good that can come from the inability to procreate through cloning. Instead of cloning for reproduction, Hinduism may promote the care of a child to be done in the form of adoption rather than reproduction through artificial cloning specifically, which would ultimately promote overall societal good and the unity of all life.

On the other hand, some scholarly articles that I reviewed on Judaism and Islam promoted the development of reproductive cloning technology for the sake of maintaining religious homogeneity and determining clear kinship ties. Through the perspective of the articles, these religions prioritize biological ties in the determination of kinship linkages. For example, in the past, Islam has explicitly discouraged adoption practices, thus disregarding the possibility of social parenthood. It is described as “a religion that privileges – even mandates – biological descent and inheritance” where most Muslim men “cannot accept the possibility of a social parenthood via adoption or gamete donation” (Inhorn, 2006). Furthermore, these religions are very specific about who may serve as a donor for in vitro fertilization procedures because of the unclear resulting kinship, the potential of donation to be considered adultery, and the religious identification of the baby. Because of these concerns, followers of these religions may prefer cloning reproductive practices because of the pure genetic lineage guaranteed for the offspring. However, a concern more specific to the Jewish perspective is the kinship of cloned progeny. Because of the religion’s emphasis on both on the gestational and social development periods of an offspring’s life, the relationship of a surrogate and the genetic donor are a little blurred. These distinctions make it “markedly harder for a woman to be considered the mother of her cloned progeny than it would be for a man to be considered the father of his cloned progeny” (Broyde, 1998). However, cloning is the optimal procreative technology that aligns with the religion’s preference for reproduction with individuals within the religious community in addition to their concern for incest among individuals reproduced via donor in vitro fertilization and other reproductive practices. These restrictions combined with the community’s cultural obligation to “inhabit the earth” makes artificial procreation a viable option, and a cloning procedure to be the optimal option (Broyde, 1998).

Though these articles offer more pros for the development of cloning methods, I have observed a shared lack of reference to the potential collateral that would be necessary for the perfection of cloning processes. In the aforementioned religious perspectives of Catholicism and Hinduism, scholarly writers emphasized the religion’s prioritization of the well-being of the mother and babies affected in potential experimentation. I propose that Congress assemble religious authority figures for a deeper, fuller understanding of perspectives on cloning for major communities in the United States.
Withal, the development of cloning processes opens the door to weary potential for situations that are against the common good. Successful cloning procedures would promote an understanding of people as a science that can be predetermined for possible betterment of an individual. In other words, successful practices could expand to sciences that allow parents to specify predetermined characteristics. Cloning specifically diminishes originality among all people and could motivate discrimination or devaluation of clones or the original genetic donor. Clones could experience decreased quality of life both physically and socially, whether the scientific technique was not perfected for their normal development or the expectations preset by the accomplishments of their genetic donor would be a constant shadow over their heads. Lastly, there is a prevalent concern for the safety of the clones, and the proposed possibility of their exploitation as test subjects for increased understanding and potential cures for the non-clone population (“Human, 2002).

It is important to distinguish two potential goals for the development of cloning techniques: cloning for reproduction and cloning for biomedical sciences. While I fully understand and respect the desire for children and potential restrictions working against couples wanting to start a family, I believe the developments of in vitro fertilization and surrogacy are sufficient techniques to achieve this desire. There are religious and personal barricades to the acceptance of IVF for some couples, but the dangers associated with the development of cloning techniques and the consequences and challenges associated with a successful procedure far outweigh potential benefits for cloning technology. Additionally, UNICEF has estimated that 140 million children around the world under the age of 18 are orphaned and in need of adoption. The artificial procreation of more children does not seem like it should be a large concern, and I suggest programs and processes that provide care for these children be prioritized as well. In a Western country like the United States, adoption has earned a reputation as a time-inefficient and tedious process, so increased efficiency and promotion of this social parenthood could be an effective focus to both alleviate the need for artificially created offspring as well as decrease the amount of children left without families. The Emory in Atlanta Cloning Initiative should not continue to receive funding because of the threat cloning technology is to acceptable human existence. An argument for and against perfected cloning techniques is the potential of clones to be subjects available for human research studies and even organ donations. In other words, some may argue for the continuation of cloning processes in order to benefit the terminally ill in biomedical practices. However, an alternative investigation for Congress’ funding could be towards the development of tissues and organs from nonhuman sources. I propose success in this field of research would satisfy the public’s desire for cloning technologies for biomedical advancement. For example, rather than looking to clone development for organ donations and somewhat ethical human research, funding could be directed towards developing organs outside of a human body. An example of both a successful study and a study with incredible potential is the investigation that used decellularized plants as perfusable tissue to engineer biological scaffolds (Gershlak et al., 2017). The benefits that cloning technology offers can be achieved in many more humane, less ethically complex ways. Funding for the Emory in Atlanta Cloning Initiative should be discontinued and alternatively redirected towards encouragement for adoption and child care, as well as into other investigations that humanely research cures for the terminally ill.

Bhattacharya, Swasti. “Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology.” Suny University Press, 2006.

Broyde, Michael. “Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law,” In Michael J. Broyde and Michael Ausubel editors, Marriage, Sex and the Family in Judaism. Rowman and Littlefield, 2005, pp. 295-328

Gershlak, J., Hernandez S., Fontana G., Perreault, L., Hansen, K., Larson S., Binder, B., Dolivo, D., Yang, T., Dominiko, T., Rolle M., Weathers, P., Medina-Bolivar, F., Cramer, C., Murphy, W., and G. Gaudette. “Crossing Kingdoms: Using Decellularized Plants as Perfusable Tissue Engineering Scaffolds.” Biomaterials, 2017, vol. 125, pp. 13-22.

“Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry.” The President’s Council on Bioethics, July, 2002. www.bioethics,gov.

Inhorn, Marcia. “He Won’t Be My Son.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2006, vol. 20, pp. 94-120.

Instructions on Respect for Human Life. Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, (1987):141-175.

Prainsack, Barbara. “‘Negotiating Life’: The Regulation of Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Israel.” Social Studies of Science, 2006, vol. 36, pp. 173-205.

Blog Post #2 by Jemimah Kim

Many questions regarding the ethicality of reproductive technology continue to arise with the increased utilization of and desires for such processes. Though some may argue that decisions of ethicality and legality towards these procedures should be determined independently of religious influence, many scholars, religious leaders, and individuals continue to produce evidence as support or opposition towards such technology (Bhattacharyya 6). We were given two texts that address the topic of reproductive technology from differing religious perspectives. Through her Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology, Swasti Bhattacharyya pioneers the topic of new reproductive technologies specifically from a Hindu perspective. It has been difficult to declare ethical stances for this religion because of its differing origins and mass of religious texts and stories. Bhattacharyya describes Hinduism as a conglomerate that “has no Pope or Magisterium, no central, overarching authority figure or governing body” (Bhattacharyya xvi). The lack of central, concrete sources of information have made it difficult for scholars to form a collective response to the religion’s perspective on certain topics such as in vitro fertilization. The term “Hindu” can describe a community geographically and religiously, thus revealing “fluid boundaries between various categories and internal diversity among official, unofficial, orthodox, and popular expression of Hinduism” (Bhattacharyya 20). Michael Broyde’s “Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law” addresses the reproductive technology of cloning from the standpoint of Jewish law. This text was written through the view of a religion that has strong fundamental understandings of the religious laws that are relatively uniform throughout the communities that practice it.

Key differences between the approach of Broyde and Bhattacharya towards reproductive technology is foremost apparent through their intended audiences and purpose for writing their perspective texts. Bhattacharya incorporates ethnographical recounts from Hindu patients as well as her experience as a student, nurse, and Hindu practicer into her book, giving it a more personal and open approach (Bhattacharyya 8). Her intended audience could possibly be Hindu followers considering artificial reproductive technologies. She does not claim religious authority but rather makes claims argumentatively. Broyde, however, is more direct with his approach and leaves little room for interpretation. He employs direct connection with his claims to Jewish law, or halakhah, which has been developed and applied within the Jewish community for over fifty years (Broyde 11). Broyde provides many examples for further clarification of the Jewish law but besides these, he is very clear on the circumstances and bioethical stances in accordance with written passages and Jewish law. For example, Broyde addresses the Talmud when considering the “humanness” of an artificial anthropoid (golem) in reference to cloning, eventually concluding that they are considered to be human and cannot be killed according to religious law.

The purpose of writing for both authors seems to differ as well. Broyde influences authoritatively and focuses his writing on the permissibility of cloning and the familial status of the resulting individual (Broyde 296). Bhattacharyya’s approach focuses more on making connections between passed down mythical stories that are well-known among Hindu followers. More specifically, a majority of Bhattaryya’s claims have been derived from connections to Mahabharata narratives (Bhattacharyya 28). For example, she argues that Hinduism places higher significance on the results of reproduction rather than the process of getting there, and she does this by referencing religious narratives that exemplify the creative ways of procreation from divine figures (Bhattacharyya 56). Alternatively, Broyde uses religious texts but also does so in indirect ways by referencing established Jewish law in addition to popular religious figures within the Jewish community, such as Rabbi Bleich in the case of Jewish surrogacy (Broyde 302). Though Broyde was able to reference such things as evidence and support because of the universal beliefs shared among most Jewish members. Overall, the two authors differed in their approaches to explaining religious perspectives on reproductive technology because of their intended audiences, purposes, and the type of resources available and accepted by the majority of the religious communities.

Though differences between the proposed religious perspectives can be partially attributed to the methodology of the authors, I believe that a majority of the differences are ultimately the results of the fundamental beliefs and structures of the two faiths. Hinduism more specifically appears to be more difficult to pinpoint perspectives on issues because of its existence as a religion made by encompassing the beliefs of a whole region. Hinduism lacks a “fixed and formal doctrine concerning any matter,” thus there is neither an insistence or an objection to the use of artificial reproductive technologies (Bhattacharyya 53). Bhattacharyya formulated her argument on well-known religious texts, and did so through her personal, open-ended interpretation of the text and her personal experiences as a practicer. Although she did have contributions from mentors and other Hindu followers, the potential for bias in their collective interpretations is very likely due to their shared interactions and residence in similar communities. In other words, there is a large chance that the presented interpretations and connections of the Mahabharata narratives do not align with those in other countries or even different parts of the United States because of the nature of the Hindu religion. While there is the diaspora of the Jewish faith as well, the religion has a centralized text and establish Jewish law that Broyde can confidently reference as an essential component of a Jewish community (Broyde 11).

Furthermore, and inevitably, the content and fundamental beliefs of the religions cause a contrast between the two perspectives as well. Bhattacharyya specifically references six key elements of Hindu thought that should be addressed when considering the ethicality of artificial reproductive technologies from this religious perspective (Bhattacharyya 57). When looked at holistically, these elements emphasize the connection between the individual and their surrounding environment. For example, it is argued that the consideration of procreation and fertility, or infertility, should not be viewed as an individual issue but should instead incorporate the interests of the public as well (Bhattacharyya 81). Whereas Broyde focuses on the artificially reproduced individual or even the Jewish family unit that it is born into, Bhattacharyya claims that Hinduism examines the issue of procreation with the betterment of the society in mind as well. This emphasis can be attributed to the six key elements of Hindu belief referenced as the centrality of society, the underlying unity of all life, requirements of dharma, multivalent nature of Hindu traditions, the theory of karma, and the commitment to ahimsa. The six key elements are driving factors that cause the overlap of concern regarding procreation to be between the individual and the public’s interest.

The resulting perspective of Hinduism on artificial procreation proposed by Bhattacharyya is more open-ended and less authoritative than that proposed by Broyde for the Jewish perspective. Though the manner in which they make their claims differ, their basic dependence on religious texts is undeniable because of the importance and conclusions drawn from these stories by religious communities. Bhattacharyya mentions the increasing concern for religious influence in legislative action, but she also touches upon the significance of these religious interpretations in clinical settings when individuals are directly faced with heavy decisions involving precious human lives (Bhattacharyya 7). Academic or declarative texts such as these by Bhattacharya and by Boyde are significant in the application of religious perspectives to the technologies of modern day, and it is important to continue developing and assessing these interpretations on religious perspectives, regardless of any discord that may arise from the analyses themselves.

– Bhattacharya, Swasti. Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology (Suny University Press, 2006).

– Broyde, Michael J. “Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law,” In Michael J. Broyde and Michael Ausubel editors, Marriage, Sex and the Family in Judaism. (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. 295-328.

Blog 1: Jemimah Kim

       The biblical story of creation is recounted in the first two chapters of its very first book Genesis. This perspective of cosmology introduces ideas of kinship and reproduction that followers of biblically-based religions have interpreted in various manners. When the specific beliefs and understandings of this holy text are applied to the manifestation of moral laws set forth by religious leaders, such as ethical perspectives on in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and abortion, the discord among spiritual communities becomes more apparent despite their utilization of comparable textual origins. Whether this may be accounted for by the inconsistency of translations, variances in interpretations, or another outlying factors is left to the discretion of the individual, although I will propose support for either explanation later on. Discrepancies and comparisons between the Jewish and Christian faith will be demonstrated throughout this post as well, as an example of two religions with contrasting opinions on ethical values that are positioned from the same text.

       Though ethical perspectives on controversial actions differ, the textual application for understanding ideas of kinship and human reproduction from the first two chapters of Genesis can be described quite literally. For example, God, a religious father figure for both Christians and Jews, “created mankind in his own image…male and female he created them” (New International Version, Gen. 1:27). This verse not only emphasizes the binary system for gender classification but also demonstrates a linkage between mankind and God the Creator. Although the intent is unclear in terms of this image being physical or figurative, many have interpreted this connection with God and mankind’s likeness to be spiritual and internal. The specific differentiation of genders implies that the initial intent for mankind was for sexual relationships to be between man and woman. The book continues by stating God’s command to His people, blessing them and directing them to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:28). The deep, unified connection for kinship between men and women is further elucidated in the second chapter of Genesis where the man’s wife was formed from one of the his ribs, becoming “bone of [his] bones and flesh of [his] flesh” (Gen. 2:23). This exemplifies the biblical proposal of kin relationships as direct and physically connecting, in addition to a spiritual binding through God. Furthermore, the reproductive right is hinted to be a God-granted blessing and command to a relationship between a man and his wife.

       This cosmological story shows the creation of man in God’s image. However, Jewish and Christian interpretation of at what stage this likeness exists is significantly different. In other words, these two religions disagree on the status of a fetus and when it is considered to fully be “the only creature on earth that God has ‘wished for himself’ and the spiritual soul of each man is ‘immediately created’ by God” (“Respect for Human Life” 147). The Catholic church views an embryo as a person with a soul “from the very first instant of his existence,” or from the very moment of conception (148). In contrast, Jewish Israelis show that “fetuses are not commonly represented as babies until much later in pregnancy or even at birth” (Seeman 355). These conflicting interpretations of the beginning of human life come into play when deciding an ethical stance on actions such as abortion and prenatal diagnosis.

       The Jewish faith also differs from the Catholic church in regards to their perspective on surrogacy and in vitro fertilization. The Jewish Israelis’ acceptance to the goals of these modern technologies is apparent through Israel’s recognition as the “first country in the world to legalize surrogate mother agreements” and the fact that  reproductive technologies “are subsidized by Israeli national health insurances” (Kahn 61). Opposing this openness to modern reproductive innovations is the Catholic church’s perspective that surrogacy disrupts the connection “between genetic and gestational parenthood,… between the child and its embodied connection to its heritage,… and between the body and personhood” (Seeman 347). In the Catholic church’s view, the “one flesh” idea introduced in the second book of Genesis requires a connection between all of these stages for a child’s life in the eyes of God. the Catholic church emphasizes the necessity of reproduction to transpire within a marriage between man and wife, thus placing heavy importance on the binary system stated within the first two books of Genesis (“Respect for Human Life” 157). In short, the allowances of the Jewish faith can be somewhat attributed to the faith’s heavy emphasis on the “be fruitful and multiply” command while the Catholic church’s focus on the binary and coupling relationship of Adam and Eve influences their view of current ethical debate.

       In addition to specific textual foci and interpretations, the variance of the Jewish faith could be socially and politically driven. The strong internal desire for Jewish woman to become mothers is encouraged by the culture’s inherent belief “that motherhood is the most primal and natural goal for women” (Kahn 11). This is also exemplified by the public’s sympathy for the case of Ruti Nahmani, which continued to support the religion’s “unquestioned popular belief that childlessness is a pitiable state that must be ‘cured’ by any means necessary’ (69). This belief is sustained by the government’s promotion and support for single mothers and overall reproduction of Jewish children, such as reinforcement through the agreement that unmarried woman can still birth legitimate, full accepted Jewish children (13). Jewish mothers appear to have a dutiful and perhaps coercive attraction towards motherhood through social and political attitudes that have ultimately influenced the social acceptance and even promotion of the issue.

       Furthermore, an ethnographic approach to studying the topics of kinship and procreation would reveal these  underlying beliefs as well. While studying texts will provide fundamental understanding of the population’s ideas and beliefs, the researcher’s understandings of the text are subject to bias as well as varied interpretation. An ethnographic approach, however, will give insight to the perspectives of multiple individuals. It will also provide hints of the sociological and political processes that influence the acceptance or rejection of some of the religion’s beliefs. Through the personal testimonies of participants, one may gain insight to the direct interpretation of a religious follower and will additionally observe other factors that may come into play when determining one’s stance on an issue.


Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1987.

Kahn, Susan Martha. Reproducing Jews: a Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel. Duke Univ. Press, 2006.

New International Version. Biblica, 2011.,

Seeman, Don. “Ethnography, Exegesis, and Jewish Ethical Reflection: The New Reproductive Technologies in Israel.” Kin, Gene, and Community Reproductive Technologies Among Jewish Israelis, edited by Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli and Yoram S. Carmeli, 2010, pp.340-361.