Human Exceptionalism

Kansas City Star Also Inaccurately Describes Therapeutic Cloning

As regular readers of Secondhand Smoke know, I am still looking for a mainstream media outlet to accurately describe somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning, one that simply acknowledges that cloning creates an embryo, which is destroyed for research, or perhaps, (in the far distant future) for use in medical treatments. I am not asking for condemnation. Just accuracy in reportage.

This seems like a vain quest. Comes now the Kansas City Star with an editorial seeking to garner support for a proposed Missouri initiative that would create a state constitutional right to engage in human SCNT, which, following the usual pattern, is blatantly misdescribed: “Opponents are objecting to a procedure that involves scooping genetic material from a human egg and replacing it with DNA from a patient’s body cell. Researchers, using chemicals and nutrients, coax the egg into dividing, producing a ball of about 300 cells. Healthy stem cells are harvested from the ball. Scientists think those stem cells have the potential to cure diseases and rebuild the body after devastating injuries.” (My italics.)

Notice the editorial states that the egg produces the “healthy stem cells.” If the editorial writer were a high school biology student answering a test, he or she would fail. The egg doesn’t divide. Once the cloning is completed, it ceases to exist. The cloned embryo is the organism that creates the embryonic stem cells, which is destroyed to obtain them.

Notice too, the stem cells are not even identified as embryonic.

Yes, this is an editorial. But opinion should be based on accurately presented facts, not upon what National Review’s Ramesh Ponnoru calls a game of “hide the embryo.”

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