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See no evil. Hear no evil. Report no evil.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | May 31, 2005

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang takes a human egg, extracts the nucleus, replaces it with genetic material from another human cell, and produces...

Well, what does he produce? Read the story in the "Science" section of the New York Times, and you never do get a clear answer to that question. On May 20, when the Korean scientist announced his findings, most newspapers (including the Times) reported that Dr. Hwang had cloned a human embryo. But that activity might be a tad controversial, so now the Times is backpedaling.

The Times tells us:

In Rome, Msgr. Elio Sgreccia, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life of the Roman Catholic Church, told Vatican Radio that the research was comparable to cloning embryos, which he called a violation of human rights.

  • Point #1That's about 25% accurate. Bishop Sgreccia called the research "abominable" because the human embryos are discarded once the scientists have reaped the tissues they want. That-- the deliberate destruction of human life-- is the foremost violation of human rights.
  • Point #2But Bishop Sgreccia never said that Dr. Hwang's research was "comparable to cloning human embryos." He said-- as most other rational reporters said-- that it was cloning human embryos.

When you say that A is "comparable to" B, you imply that there are both similarities and differences. So you might say, for instance, that the Times story was "comparable to" an objective report.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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