Human Cloning and Congress
Recent months 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? And this essay attempts to answer this pressing question.
Like a giant jigsaw puzzle as each piece is put in place, the picture of the brave new world of eugenic biotechnology is coming clear, and it is an ugly and frightening picture of designed descendants, commodified body parts, manipulated babies, and life itself twisted to little more than the attempt to prove that it is possible to twist life.
The time to stop this is now, and the place to stop it is human cloning. We must send a message that some things we will not do, even though we can. We must draw a line and say that we do not simply acquiesce in the biotechnologists' willful and unthinking desire to fool with the basic stuff of life.
In the next two months, the Senate will debate the question of cloning, with three proposals now in play: the Brownback-Landrieu bill to ban all cloning (echoing the bill already passed by the House of Representatives), and the Feinstein-Kennedy and Harkin-Specter bills, both of which allow scientists to perform so-called "therapeutic" cloning, while prohibiting the bringing of those clones to birth in "reproductive" cloning.
There is moral fecklessness in human cloning. The attempt to allow cloned embryos and then to ban the birth at which they naturally aim is a bizarre and unworkable compromise. How exactly could we enforce it without the courts ordering women to have abortions? How could we prosecute violators without an unattainable knowledge of a scientist's intention in creating a clone? And how could we call the compromise ethical when it would establish in law a class of embryos that it is a crime not to destroy, not to treat as disposable tissue? The attempt to ban only reproductive cloning will prove simply an invitation for scientists to get their techniques right until the pressure to bring one of those clones to birth becomes overwhelming. In truth, the only way to ban reproductive human cloning is by banning all human cloning, and the only bill now before the Senate that will do that is the Brownback-Landrieu bill.
Indeed, for Senators Feinstein and Kennedy to label their...