The dangerous mixture of tyranny and biogenetics.Sep 23, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 02 • By ERIC BROWN
WHEN MAO ZEDONG set forth his designs for China's Great Leap Forward into Communist modernity, he described the Chinese people as "poor and blank." "On blank sheets of paper," he declared, "free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be written, the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted." Possessed by the totalitarian dream of human nature as his open canvas, Mao thought a new sort of man could be written into being, and that brutal means for creating the new society would be justified.
Today, China stands on the threshold of another revolution--the biot
Constitutions are for people, not for pigs.Sep 16, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 01 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
SOMETHING DISTURBING is happening in the Florida elections this fall. No, not the chance that Janet Reno will be the Democratic candidate for governor. A state initiative has qualified for the ballot letting voters decide whether to grant constitutional rights to pregnant pigs.
On the surface, the issue is one of animal husbandry. In the interest of industrial efficiency, and to prevent mother pigs from accidentally rolling on and crushing their offspring, many pig farmers confine pregnant sows in "farrowing crates" during the final stage of pregnancy and for a time after birth.
Jul 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 43 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
WITH THE RELEASE last week of its report, Human Cloning and Human Dignity (available at www.bioethics.gov), the President's Council on Bioethics has made a large and lasting contribution to our national debate on dealing with the revolutionary advances in biotechnology that are--for better and worse--now upon us. The report is the result of six months of sober reflection and intense discussion by some of the nation's leading thinkers and scientists, led by council chairman Leon Kass.
The President's Council on Bioethics slices the sausage fine.Jul 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 43 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
WHEN THE President's Council on Bioethics released its report on cloning last Thursday morning, in a gilded meeting room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, Sean Tipton made himself available to reporters in a hallway outside. But he wasn't sure whether he should be upset.
"Let's be clear about what this means," he said. Tipton is a board member and spokesman for the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, the Washington lobbying arm of the biotechnology industry, which of course strongly favors cloning.
No ban is better than a phony ban.Jul 1, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 41 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
WHAT'S LESS BAD: enacting a ban on so-called "reproductive" human cloning that explicitly authorizes cloning for research purposes, or passing no law at all prohibiting cloning in 2002? That is the seeming conundrum facing cloning opponents, since neither side in the great cloning debate apparently can muster the 60 votes needed to pass either a complete or partial cloning ban in the U.S. Senate.
Actually, there is no conundrum.
War and peacee in the brave new world.Jun 24, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 40 • By ERIC COHEN
IN A RECENT REPORT for investors in the biotech industry, the relationship between biotechnology and terrorism is described as follows: "Ugly as bioterrorism is, bringing biotech back into the headlines in the capacity of a savior has done much to stimulate the sector since its mid-September 2001 lows on Wall Street."
In other words, terrorism is useful for the reputation and prospects of the biotech industry. Biotechnology is necessary for survival in war--since biological weapons require biological remedies.
May 27, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 36 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
OVER THE PAST YEAR, the president, Congress, and the nation have been engaged in a serious public debate on human cloning. It has featured congressional hearings, industry lobbying, a House vote banning all human cloning, and months of delay and equivocation in the Senate.
In all this time, no one bothered to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
From just war to human cloning.May 13, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 34 • By GILBERT MEILAENDER
The Patient as Person
Explorations in Medical Ethics
by Paul Ramsey
Yale University Press, 320 pp., $17.95
IN A TIME when war and cloning seem to dominate the news, it is worth recalling the writings of Paul Ramsey--for he spent a decade of his life thinking and writing about just-war theory, and better than another decade helping to shape the emerging field of bioethics.
The couple is back and this time they want America to know that cloning isn't really cloning.12:00 AM, Apr 25, 2002 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
WHEN IS A CLONE not a clone, and an embryo not an embryo? When the biotech lobby wants to persuade Americans that creating a cloned embryo and then destroying it for the sake of medical experimentation should be allowed.
Last night, on TV's fictional "West Wing," the fictional "Harry and Louise"--stars of the famous ads against the Clinton health care plan--returned to the small screen. The new Harry and Louise ads are sponsored by CuresNow, a Hollywood-based group opposed to a ban on cloning.
Francis Fukuyama defends humanity.Apr 29, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 32 • By J. BOTTUM
Our Posthuman Future
Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
by Francis Fukuyama
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 pp., $25
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA is right, of course, when he says in his new book, "Our Posthuman Future," that we should be frightened by the Brave New World that eugenic biotechnology has opened up for us. He's right about the probable causes. He's right about the likely effects. He's right about the incapacity of researchers to prevent themselves from pursuing new scientific discoveries.
It's the only domestic issue Bush is focusing on.Apr 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 31 • By FRED BARNES
ENACTMENT OF A FULL BAN on human cloning is complicated by two dozen or more senators, roughly half of them Republicans, who wish the issue would go away. Advocates of the ban wanted to bring Leon Kass, head of President Bush's Council on Bioethics, before a meeting of Republican senators. The queasy senators said don't bother. (Kass has talked to a number of senators one-on-one.) One GOP senator quietly complained after hearing a colleague's pitch for the ban that he hates dealing with issues with strong moral content.
Debating the biotech utopia.Apr 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 31 • By ERIC COHEN
IN JANUARY, the President's Council on Bioethics began its first meeting with a reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Birthmark," a parable of a scientist's obsessive effort to remove a "crimson stain" from his wife's cheek. It is about the mad quest for perfection--the revolt against "sin, sorrow, decay, and death"--that ends with the destruction of its momentarily perfected subject.
Fortunately, most Americans--and most scientists--are not so mad.
James Watson's days after the double helix.Mar 18, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 26 • By DAVID BERLINSKI
Genes, Girls, and Gamow
After the Double Helix
by James D. Watson
Knopf, 304 pp., $26
A DOCTORATE from Indiana University in 1949, the Cavendish laboratories at Cambridge University, the discovery of DNA. Thereafter, immortality. James Watson has plainly come to regard his life as a sign of grace.
And with some reason, I suppose. Watson was twenty-three when in the early 1950s he joined Francis Crick in a scientific partnership. They proposed to discover the secret of life. The odds in their favor were not great.
Moral considerations aside, human cloning is not going to lead to useful medical treatments.Mar 11, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 25 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
THE SENATE will shortly take up one of the most pressing moral, ethical, and scientific issues of our time: the Brownback proposal to outlaw human cloning. Two alternative proposals would ban only "reproductive cloning," which would mean explicitly legalizing human cloning but not the implantation of a clone embryo into a womb. Pro-cloners are willing for the most part to outlaw reproductive cloning (for now) because it isn't safe and it gives the appearance of a reasonable compromise.
Mar 11, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 25 • By J. BOTTUM, FOR THE EDITORS
RECENT WEEKS have seen news of biotech advances all along the front: cloned cats, artificial wombs, nascent human-animal hybrids, genetic selection of embryos for implantation, fetal-tissue manipulation--and on, and on, nearly every day bringing some news item about the technology that is redefining what it means to be human.
The question is, do we want this redefinition?