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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Early Push for Reproductive Cloning



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We are always assured by "the scientists" that they don't support "reproductive cloning," but only want a license to clone so that the asexually created embryos (for now, leading to fetuses later) can be researched upon. To some degree, that is true--but not because of any moral calculation. Reproductive cloning isn't "safe," meaning it would lead certainly to major birth defects, still births, and the deaths of birth mothers.

Yet, just beneath the radar, some already promote a right to reproductive cloning. As I detailed in Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World, many in bioethics believe that there is a fundamental right to procreate by any means desired, and hence, once it is "safe," they are all for reproductive cloning. This overlooks, of course, the long process of human experimentation on fetuses as well as embryos making it "safe" would require, but never mind. These nascent humans wouldn't be "persons" anyway, so they would be ours to do with as we saw fit.

Some already go even farther. A professor (aren't they all) from the University of Melbourne, Australia, has published a piece in the current Journal of Medical Ethics (where other writers are pushing for permanently unconscious patients to be used in human-to-animal organ transplant experiments--more about which I plan to write in the near future), proposing a "negative right" to do reproductive cloning as soon as the technology can be applied. He suggests at least two instances in which cloning through gestation to birth should be allowed now: 1) If it is the only way for a couple to generate genetically related offspring, 2) to create "savior" siblings. (Source: "Just another reproductive technology? The ethics of human reproductive cloning as an experimental medical procedure," D. Elsner, J Med Ethics 2006; 32:596-600) The apparent difference between a negative and a positive right? A positive rights requires public financing.

None of this surprises me. After some five years of dealing with the cloning issue, this is what I believe: Beneath the hedging, weasel modifiers, and passive prose that are hallmarks of bioethical advocacy, the axis of bioethicists/biotechnologists have an anything goes mentality about these issues. Some are more candid than others about this. Some speak about setting "reasonable limits"--but somehow these suggested impediments seem to always be about what cannot yet be done, not what can be done now or in the near future.

And this much I know: These advocates believe that "non person" homo sapiens have more importance as laboratory specimens than as humans. That mindset, as readers of this blog know, leads to some very dark and oppressive places.


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