4:12 PM, Sep 11, 2015 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Cloning is one of those ethical problems that seemed terribly urgent twenty years ago, but which, for some reason, dropped off of our collective radar. Ever wonder why? Well now the New Atlantis has the definitive answer.
The latest issue of the New Atlantis features a giant, multi-part report on cloning in general, and human cloning in particular. The findings are deeply unsettling, because it turns out that the problems with cloning didn't disappear when Dolly the sheep kicked it. Here's the New Atlantis setting the table:
When the world learned in 1997 of Dolly the sheep, the first clone produced from an adult mammal, a broad public discussion about the ethics of human cloning ensued, largely focused on the nature, meaning, and future of human procreation. However, following the successful derivation of human embryonic stem cells in 1998, the debate over human cloning largely shifted to the question of whether it is acceptable for scientists to create human embryos only to destroy them. The subsequent discovery of promising alternative techniques for generating stem cells without creating or destroying embryos seemed to show that scientific progress would obviate the demand for cloning. But cloning research continued, and American scientists announced in 2013 that they had for the first time successfully obtained stem cells from cloned human embryos.
Since then, the talk in cloning technology circles has revolved around two basic uses: cloning for biomedical research and cloning to produce human children. It's hard to say which is worse:
Although the latest scientific work related to cloning has been focused on potential medical applications, much of that research is relevant to the creation of cloned children. Not only would cloning-to-produce-children be a dangerous experimental procedure, one that cannot be consented to by its subjects (the children created by it), it is also a profound distortion of the moral meaning of human procreation. Giving adults the opportunity to have what has been called the "ultimate 'single-parent child'" would contribute to the commodification of children, and would withhold from children the possibility of a relationship with both a genetic mother and father. Cloning-to-produce-children could also be used to attempt to control the physical and even psychological traits of children, extending the eugenic logic of those who would use reproductive biotechnology to have the perfect child. This form of genetic engineering would deny the children it produces an open future, burdening them with the expectation that they will be like the individuals from whom they were cloned. And cloning could make possible still more dramatic forms of genetic engineering.
Cloning-for-biomedical-research is also profoundly unethical, as it turns human reproduction into a manufacturing process in the most literal sense: human embryos are created to serve as raw materials for the production of biomedical research supplies. This kind of cloning is today being performed at several scientific labs in the United States, despite the availability of alternative techniques that produce cells of nearly the same scientific and medical value but that require neither the creation nor destruction of human embryos. Cloning-for-biomedical-research also endangers the health and safety of the women called on to undergo dangerous hormone treatments to serve as egg donors. If research cloning is not stopped now, we face the prospect of the mass farming of human embryos and fetuses, and the transformation of the noble enterprise of biomedical research into a grotesque system of exploitation and death.
All in all, the report makes a convincing case that we ought to get out of the business of both human cloning. Because while no one has been paying attention, our scientists have walked us down a very dark alley.
This is an excerpt from Jonathan V. Last’s weekly newsletter. Sign up for it here.
Bioethics and Planned Parenthood.Sep 21, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 02 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
Jeffrey Drazen, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, recently penned a scathing editorial about Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of fetal tissues. No, Drazen and his two coauthors (one a volunteer for Planned Parenthood) didn’t criticize the abortionists for killing fetuses in a “less crunchy manner” to obtain intact organs.
Is it ethical to make three-parent babies?Sep 2, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 48 • By BRENDAN P. FOHT
The decision by the British government earlier this summer to approve a suite of new technologies that would make possible the creation of human embryos with three genetic parents has brought a long-simmering and seemingly obscure bioethical debate into the public eye, raising questions not only about the future of human reproductive technologies but also about some practices that have been with us for decades.
It’s here. Don’t get used to it. May 27, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 35 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
Human cloning is finally here, and it is going to spark a political conflagration. First, some background.
Two cases of European doctors refusing to treat their patients are cause for concern: Futile Care Theory may be coming to America. 11:00 PM, Mar 10, 2004 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
A LITTLE NOTICED LITIGATION in the United Kingdom could be a harbinger of medical woes to come here in the United States. Leslie Burke, age 44, is suing for the right to stay alive. Yes, you read right: Burke, who has a terminal neurological disease, is deathly afraid that doctors will refuse to provide him wanted food and water when his condition deteriorates to the point that has to receive nourishment through a feeding tube.
With a dishonest bill pending, Delaware looks to join New Jersey as a haven for human cloning.11:45 AM, Jan 16, 2004 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
CLONING ADVOCATES are playing a shell game with the American people. At the federal level, they advocate the legalization of human cloning but assert that cloned embryos should be destroyed after 14 days of development and never implanted in wombs (the Hatch / Feinstein Bill). But this is a diversionary political tactic. Hatch / Feinstein's true purpose is to prevent passage of a total federal ban on cloning by human somatic nuclear cell transfer (SCNT), the Brownback / Landrieu bill.
Dec 22, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 15 • By CHRISTINE ROSEN
Whose View of Life?
Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells
by Jane Maienschein
Harvard University Press, 368 pp., $27.95
THIS OUGHT TO BE a welcome contribution to contemporary bioethical debates--a book, written by a well-regarded historian of science and published by a prestigious academic press, that engages the history of embryo research, stem cell research, and cloning, while promising to tackle the contentious issue of when life begins.
New Jersey Assembly Bill 2840 looks to be the most radical human cloning measure ever put into law. It should be stopped.11:50 AM, Dec 11, 2003 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
USING "embryonic stem cell research" (ESCR) as a Trojan Horse, the authors of New Jersey Assembly Bill 2840 are trying to sneak one of the most radical human cloning legalization schemes ever proposed into law. How radical is A-2840? If the bill passes, it will be legal in New Jersey to implant cloned human embryos into wombs, gestate them for up to nine months, and then destroy them for use in research.
Terri Schiavo's guardian ad litem files his report; there's bad news and good news.11:00 PM, Dec 3, 2003 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
THERE IS A BULL ELEPHANT in the living room of the Terri Schiavo case that many adamantly refuse to see. Terri's husband Michael Schiavo has fallen in love with another woman. He has lived with his "fiancé" now for many years. The couple has been blessed with two children together. By any reasonable standard of judgment, falling in love with, committing to, and siring children by another woman estranges a husband from his wife. Indeed, in a divorce case, these facts would undoubtedly be construed as actions amounting to legal abandonment.
The mainstream media is ignoring promising news about adult stem cell research.11:00 PM, Dec 2, 2003 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
MEDIA BIAS is alive and well and busily promoting the brave new world. I personally experienced the phenomenon recently when I participated in an educational symposium in Frankfort, Kentucky (along with Drs. David Prentice and John Hubert). Our purpose was to provide empirical and moral support for pending state legislation that would outlaw human cloning in Kentucky. (Similar laws have already passed in Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota, and Arkansas.)
The Florida state legislature steps in to save a woman whose husband is trying to kill her.11:40 AM, Oct 21, 2003 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
WHEN TERRI SCHIAVO collapsed in 1990, causes unknown, she could have had no idea that 13 years later people the world over would know her name and care very much about whether she lived or died. Yet what began as a private tragedy--a vivacious young woman stricken in the very prime of her life with a brain injury that left her profoundly disabled--has become a story heard round the world.
Oct 27, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 07 • By J. BOTTUM, FOR THE EDITORS
YOU KNOW THE STORY. The frog in a saucepan on the stove will die--because the temperature creeps up so smoothly and stealthily that he's never given the clue that now is the time to hop out. And so he boils to death, for if the rise from 70 degrees to 71 degrees didn't make him jump, why should the rise from 150 to 151?
We've never entirely believed the story--or its allegorical applications. Surely the frog will jump, and people, too, before the water gets too hot.
The horrifying case of Terri Schiavo, and what it portends.Oct 20, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 06 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
AT 2:00 P.M. on October 15, 2003, Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is to be removed, after which she will slowly dehydrate to death. This is to be done at the request of her husband, Michael Schiavo, and at the order of Judge George W. Greer of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, in Clearwater, Florida. If the order is carried out, Terri will die over a period of 10 to 14 days.
The Schiavo case is only the most recent "food and fluids" case to make national headlines, after Nancy Cruzan (Missouri), Michael Martin (Michigan), and Robert Wendland (California).