Federal law now recognizes the humanity of the unborn child in yet another way as research scientists are now banned under U.S. patent law from taking out a patent on a human being they create in the lab.
National Right to Life played a key role in getting a ban on the patenting of human beings in the new patent law.
A patent is a government-conferred property right that gives an inventor exclusive rights to manufacture or use his invention for a defined period, usually 20 years. The patent holder can license others to employ his patent for a fee, called a royalty.
Early in the year, when it became clear that Congress was likely to take up a sweeping revision of the patent laws, NRLC insisted on inclusion of language to codify (make permanent) a previously enacted temporary prohibition on any patents being issued on human embryos.
Some scientists and the companies they work for want to clone or create “experimental human beings” that they can experiment on and perhaps earn profits from. These human embryos could be used in everything from testing medicines to gauging human sensitivity to certain cosmetics.
But a human being, no matter how small, is not a commodity. After the human research abuses in World War II, the U.S. even signed international treaties that reflect our belief that never again should a human being be used as a research subject without their consent or used solely for the benefit of another.
Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, commented,
“Unethical researchers and biotechnology companies are willing not only to create and destroy embryonic human beings for research purposes, but even to patent these fellow humans so they can license, market, buy, and sell them as mere commodities.
By prohibiting patents on human organisms, Congress has helped prevent such gross abuses and has taken some of the profit motive out of the drive for human cloning.”
National Right to Life understands that the battle to build a culture of life occurs everywhere: in the halls of Congress, at the voting booth, in the thousands of local communities where we have active pro-life chapters and volunteers.
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