The Blog

Ian Wilmut: Human Cloner

How the man who created Dolly the sheep slid down the slippery slope to human reproductive cloning.

11:00 PM, Feb 15, 2005 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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This slip-sliding away is what happens when our ethical views actually amount to mere moral equivocation. To be sure, there are times when nuance is called for and when we must work through gray areas. For example, there is nothing inherently wrong with creating transgenic animals from which we can pharm useful medical substances. Our task with regard to that issue is to decide how much human in animals is too much human in animals. But there are also times when the only course to prevent profound wrongs is to establish firm ethical and legal barriers beyond which we will not tread.

Human cloning is such an issue. As Wilmut's ever-loosening ethical standards demonstrate, attempting to be partially for human cloning and partially against it creates an inherent intellectual instability which cannot long be maintained. Indeed, the very nature of the technology, to borrow Lincoln's wisdom about the inability of our nation remain half free and half slave, eventually forces us to decide to become all one thing or all the other.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His current book is Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World.