Presidential Radio Address - 10 January 1998
Good morning. Today I want to talk with you about the extraordinary promise of science and technology and the extraordinary responsibilities that promise imposes on us.
As we approach the 21st century it is clearer than ever that science and technology are changing the way we live and work and raise our families. Remarkable breakthroughs in biomedical science are helping to unravel the mysteries of life, holding out new hope for lifesaving cures to some of our most dreaded diseases. In recent years, we've made real progress lengthening the lives of people with HIV, finding the genes that can show heightened risk for breast cancer and diabetes. Now we're on the verge of discovering new treatments for spinal cord and even brain injuries.
For 5 years I have maintained our Nation's solid commitment to scientific research and technological development, because I believe they're essential to our Nation's economic growth and to building the right kind of bridge to the 21st century. The balanced budget I will submit in just a few weeks to Congress reflects that continued commitment. And in my upcoming State of the Union Address, I'll talk more about what we're doing to keep America on the cutting edge of the scientific and technological advancements that are driving our new global economy.
Still, it's good to remember that scientific advancement does not occur in a moral vacuum. Technological developments divorced from values will not bring us one step closer to meeting the challenges or reaping the benefits of the 21st century.
This week, like many Americans, I learned the profoundly troubling news that a member of the scientific community is actually laying plans to clone a human being. Personally, I believe that human cloning raises deep concerns, given our cherished concepts of faith and humanity. Beyond that, however, we know there is virtually unanimous consensus in the scientific and medical communities that attempting to use these cloning techniques to actually clone a human being is untested and unsafe and morally unacceptable.
We must continue to maintain our deep commitment to scientific research and technological development. But when it comes to a discovery like cloning, we must move with caution, care, and deep concern about the impact of our actions. That is why I banned the use of Federal funds for cloning human beings while we study the risks and responsibilities of such a possibility. And that's why I sent legislation to Congress last June that would ban the cloning of human beings for at least 5 years while preserving our ability to use the morally and medically acceptable applications of cloning technology.
Unfortunately, Congress has not yet acted on this legislation. Yet, it's now clearer than ever the legislation is exactly what is needed. The vast majority of scientists and physicians in the private sector have refrained from using these techniques improperly and have risen up to condemn any plans to do so. But we know it's possible for some to ignore the consensus of their colleagues and proceed without regard for our common values. So today, again, I call on Congress to act now to make it illegal for anyone to clone a human being.
Our Nation was founded by men and women who firmly believed in the power of science to transform their world for the better. Like them, we're bound together by common dreams and by the values that will drive our own vision for the future. And our commitment to carry those enduring ideals with us will renew their promise in a new century and a new millennium. We must never lose touch with that, no matter what the reason, or we'll lose touch with ourselves as a people.
Thanks for listening.