Maverick Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori has restated his claims that three cloned babies have been born. Speaking at a press briefing before a conference on reproductive technology in Rome, he refused to give further details and offered no evidence or details about the alleged births.
Antinori claimed in 2002 and 2003 that he knew of three women who were carrying cloned babies. He continually refused to detail what his role in the pregnancies was, saying only that he had given a 'cultural and scientific contribution' to a consortium of scientists involved in the cloning procedure. At the time they were made, his claims were treated with scepticism by other scientists and reproductive specialists, who said they did not imagine that he would have the technological capability to have been able to clone human babies.
When he was asked for information on how the pregnancies turned out, all he said was 'I know that three went well', adding 'I confirm this fact exists'. Three babies had been born, he said, after being created using nuclear transfer technology, the same method used to create Dolly the sheep. He said he would prefer the term 'nuclear transfer' to be used in connection with the children, as he believes that to call them 'clones' would have negative connotations.
When pressed, he refused to provide further details about the babies, such as where and when they were born, the nationality of their mothers, or who performed the cloning procedures, citing legal and other reasons.
In February this year, Italy passed restrictive new laws on assisted reproduction and related techniques. Any attempts to clone an embryo in Italy, for either reproductive or therapeutic purposes, are now illegal.