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Interview with Dr. Kelly Hollowell

Dr. Kelly Hollowell is a scientist, patent attorney and adjunct professor of bioethics at the University of Richmond and Regent University Law Schools. She is a weekend columnist for WorldNet Daily, and a nationally recognized conference speaker on issues of bioethics and advancing medical technologies. She is also founder and executive director of SMI, a non-profit corporation addressing issues in science and biotechnology.

As a conference speaker Dr. Hollowell has presented to the Council for National Policy, Eagle Forum, Legal Defense Fund, and Concerned Women of America. In addition to her academic writings, Dr. Hollowell has written and reviewed findings and legislation for multiple state representatives. She was also nominated to the President's Commission for ESCR by the Christian Medical Association.

Previous experience includes positions as corporate counsel and science editor for Star-Wire Corporation; patent attorney for Kaufman & Canoles; and forensic toxicologist at University of Miami School of Medicine Department of Pathology. Dr. Hollowell is a member of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Virginia State Bar Association, Christian Medical Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Family Foundation Advisory Board.

Please briefly describe what the Christian Medical & Dental Associations is and what it does.

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations exist to motivate, educate, and equip Christian physicians and dentists to glorify God by:

  • living out the character of Christ in their homes, practices, communities and around the world;

  • pursuing professional competence and Christ-like compassion in their daily work;

  • influencing their families, colleagues, and patients toward a right relationship with Jesus Christ;

  • advancing Biblical principles in bioethics and health to the Church and society.

CMDA has many programs:
Global Health Outreach exists to provide opportunities for medical, dental and other healthcare professionals, students, their families and associates to serve Christ, to share Christ and to grow in Christ.

Medical Education Int'l is designed for graduate physicians and dentists who wish to serve by teaching and training medical personnel overseas, as part of Christian medical/dental teaching teams.

The Pan-African College of Christian Surgeons (PACCS) is an international organization dedicated to developing quality training programs in general surgery at Christian hospitals in Africa, and to assuring a high level of professional competence among its members.

The Domestic Missions Commission (DMC) is composed of a group of men and women dedicated to serving the poor of the United States and sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Domestic Mission Commission is to promote and facilitate domestic mission outreach by CMDA members and to encourage them as they serve.

CMDA also provides networking, conferences and placement opportunities.

In regards to therapeutic and reproductive human cloning, what are your concerns?

Human reproductive cloning is nothing short of human experimentation. Unlike other in-vitro fertilization (ivf) procedures that mimic natural conception through technology, reproductive cloning endeavors to create life through a procedure that is completely unnatural. Cloning creates a new life from the genetic material of a single individual rather than two people. Given the magnitude of failed efforts and breadth of abnormalities seen in cloned animals, it is clear that any form of human cloning qualifies as human experimentation and medical malpractice.

For example, the success rate of cloning animals ranges from 0.1 to 3%. This means for every 1000 tries, there are between 970 and 999 failed attempts. Of those born, problems often occur later in development. For example, cloned animals tend to be much bigger at birth than their natural counterparts. Scientists call this "Large Offspring Syndrome" (LOS). Clones with LOS have abnormally large organs. This can lead to breathing, blood flow and other problems. Even some clones without LOS have developed kidney and brain malformations as well as impaired immune systems. Finally, the discovery of abnormalities in the length of the DNA strands of cloned animals indicates that the cells of some cloned animals, such as Dolly, are aging faster than the cells of a sheep naturally conceived.

Additionally, there is an inherent devaluation of human life in the mechanical processing and mass production of embryos created by any artificial means. This is easily evidenced by the more than 400,000 neglected and forgotten embryos held in frozen storage in our ivf facilities.

Human therapeutic cloning begins with the same procedure as reproductive cloning in creating human life. The goal of reproductive cloning is to produce a baby through implantation of the cloned embryo. The goal of therapeutic cloning is to sacrifice the cloned embryo to harvest its embryonic stem cells for research and or treatment. That means the primary difference between these two procedures is their intended use and purpose. Therapeutic cloning crosses a new threshold in moral depravity in that its goal is the creation of life specifically intended for destruction.

Dr. David Stevens, executive director of CMDA, explains "Ethically, the pursuit of human cloning will involve the deaths of human embryos during development. The use of human life merely as a means to an end is morally unacceptable. Human cloning threatens long-standing principles related to parentage, lineage, family structure and the uniqueness of the individual. Children are unique individuals with inestimable worth; their value is not derived from serving as replacements for other human beings. Children require parents' unconditional love; they are not consumer products to be chosen for desired features or discarded for unwanted liabilities.

And spiritually, human cloning deviates from the wisdom of God's design for human relationships and genetic diversity. The historical Judeo-Christian ethic, founded upon clear biblical principles, holds that human life is sacred because each individual is made in God's image; that God's design is that each individual is formed by the union of genetic material from a husband and a wife; and that the family is the basic social unit designed by God to receive and nurture new human life."

There is no question that efforts to create human beings by cloning marks a new threshold in moral depravity opening the floodgates to unspeakable human-rights violations and grisly human experimentation on our unborn children. It is not only a decisive step toward turning human reproduction into a manufacturing process, but it transforms the mystery and majesty of life into a mere malleable and marketable commodity.

Do you believe cloning research and development has any benefits?

Cloning research may have useful purpose in creating homogenous groups of animal models for use in research. Such animal groups can increase the efficacy of research on disease and or treatments.

While embryonic stem cells have been the center of much debate and controversy, how do you feel about the use of adult stem cells for researching cures for diseases?

Adult stem cell research is wholly ethically and clinically effective. Current applications of adult stem cells have been in clinical use for more than a decade and offer treatment for a broad array of disorders. They include treatments for the following:

Sources for adult stem cells include:

  • Placenta

  • cord blood

  • bone marrow (demonstrated to make more than blood but also bone, muscle, cartilage, heart tissue, liver, and even brain cells)

  • organ donors

  • possibly fat cells

The truth is that thousands of patients are treated and cured using adult stem cells. On the other hand, embryonic stem cell research has so far yielded meager results in the laboratory and no positive clinical results to date.

Following a vote passed in November 2003 by the UN to postpone voting on a ban on cloning for at least two years, cloning and its research remains largely unrestricted. How do you feel the US government should address this issue, and was this the best short-term solution?

In response to "advances" in human cloning, it is time to confront the mindset of scientists and clinicians who view themselves above all ethical and moral limits. Physicians and scientists have a duty beyond themselves and discovery. They have a duty to comply with the ethical and moral limits that define us as a culture and nation.

The only measure likely to distance ourselves from countries like Korea, counteract immoral state laws such as the "clone and kill" bill recently passed in New Jersey, and prevent enactment of cloning bills pending in other states, is passing federal legislation that prohibits all forms of human cloning such as Senate bill 245 (S. 245), The Human Cloning Prohibition Act introduced by Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Do you believe the UN would be wise to first implement a ban on reproductive cloning-a compromise between the two camps-and then take some time to decide on therapeutic cloning? Could you see such action as a beginning toward CMA's goals?

Human cloning of any kind violates the sanctity of human life. Wisdom mandates closing all opportunities for human cloning. No compromise that allows for the sacrifice of human life is acceptable to the CMDA. The CMDA will no doubt continue leading the charge to prohibit all forms of human cloning regardless of UN action.

Now that human stem cells have been successfully cloned and the information of how to clone them is readily available, how will CMA attempt to get scientists to refrain from proceeding with human cloning?

As consistent with our mission and goals, The Christian Medical & Dental Associations exists in part to influence colleagues while advancing Biblical principles in bioethics and health care. So we will continue in our current venues including conferences, publications, and public outreach to educate our colleagues and the public of the unethical practices of human cloning.

In some labs, parthenogenesis has been used to avoid the controversy of cloning, because it involves an unfertilized egg that can produce hundreds of stem cell lines. Is this an acceptable method of research?

For the record, I know very little of this field of study. It would seem acceptable as it applies to animals and plants. The study of both natural and artificial parthenogenesis can be an informative study since unusual patterns of heredity can occur. According to one source, artificial parthenogenesis has been achieved in almost all major groups of animals, but the results are often incomplete and abnormal development. No successful experiments with human parthenogenesis have been reported.

How soon and in what way do you feel that cloning will directly affect the general public?

The secret of an advancing society is remaining civilized, and a civilized society preserves human dignity by living within ethical limits and moral boundaries. The "civilization" of a society can be measured by the care it provides for its weakest members, not its strongest or loudest.

That means there has never been a greater need to protest the current direction of this unethical research. But let me be clear. This is not a rejection of technological advance. In fact, most Americans recognize that advances in science and medicine such as transplant surgery, cancer treatment and adult stem-cell research improve our health and lives.

Nonetheless, in addition to the concerns cited in question two, human cloning advances a philosophy that devalues human life. The effects of such a philosophy can be seen in many areas beyond reproductive technologies, such as the practice of euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide and human experimentation. That means human cloning is already having its effect on society.

Submitted by:
Chris Moore, spring 2004 intern