Human Exceptionalism

The Way the Cloning Wind is Blowing

Australia has voted to end its former complete ban on human cloning. What is interesting is that this change wasn’t made because of new breakthroughs in the science. There haven’t been any–except with adult and umbilical cord blood stem cells. Rather, it was founded on pure hype, repeatedly made, and backed by bounteous bucks. Even though human cloning has not yet been done successfully, at least with the embryos maintained to the point that ES cells could be derived, lawmakers were awash with promises of CURES! CURES! CURES! and the threat, yet again, that unless the country gave Big Biotech exactly what it wanted, the Aussies would fall behind in science.

The Australian decision to explicitly legalize the creation of human life for the purposes of researching upon it and destroying it–which is an echo of the National Academy of Sciences so-called “ethical” guidelines–is a vivid demonstration that the Establishment is all for commodifying and utilitizing human life.

The power of money in politics, mixed with media bias, is a potent political force. I expect that cloning permissibility will become the general default setting, with bans (for now) on reproductive cloning. The next fight will be over public funding. If that is lost, and if cloning works, in ten to twenty years we will be arguing over the ethical permissibility of fetal farming. I mean why not? The principle that we can use nascent life like a corn crop is being firmly established.

Still, that doesn’t mean we give up. “Speaking truth to power,” a phrase I loathe but which seems apt here, is never easy. Those of us seeking to promote a biotechnology that does not dehumanize have an obligation to continue on. After all, tomorrow is another day.


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