Italian Doctor Says Cloned Baby Due in January

Nov 27, 2002 11:58 AM EST

ROME - Controversial Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori said on Tuesday (11/26/02) a woman pregnant with a cloned embryo was due to give birth in January, but declined to give any details about her.

"It's going well. There are no problems," Antinori told a news conference, adding he had made a "scientific and cultural contribution" to the project but was not personally in charge.

The doctor, who made world headlines in 1994 when he helped a 62-year-old woman have a child, supports the cloning of human beings as a way for infertile couples to have children.

Many in the scientific community have challenged Antinori's statements in the past that women have been pregnant with cloned babies. He produced no evidence at the news conference.

Large numbers of doctors and scientists reject human cloning as irresponsible, saying the risk of creating deformed or sick babies is too great and that it poses unanswerable ethical dilemmas.

Antinori would not reveal the location or nationality of the woman, but said ultra-sound scans showed the fetus currently weighed 2.5 to 2.7 kg (5.5 to 5.9 pounds) and was "absolutely healthy."

He said in May three women were pregnant with clones, one in her 10th week, one in her seventh and one in her sixth. He declined at the time to say where any of the trio were, disclosing only that one lived in an Islamic nation.

Antinori did not specify on Tuesday if the woman he said was due to give birth in January was one of the three he had spoken of earlier.

By Dylan Martinez - Reuters