Monday, August 29, 2005

Cloning for cures, cloning for babies

Is there a difference?

Obviously there is a difference in outcomes. In therapeutic cloning, the resulting embryo is dissected at day 5 of its development when the inner cell mass is withdrawn. Those stem cells are then grown into cells lines from which any sort of tissue may be developed. Or so the theory goes.

In reproductive cloning, the resulting embryo is put back into a womb and allowed to mature until natural birth.

Though the intent of the projects are different, the technique is identical. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. It goes by a lot of different names these days: all thought up by people who are trying to convince us that there is a real technical difference between therapeutic and reproductive cloning. They are lying.

In short, the process begins with embryo manufacture. The entire genetic blueprint of this new creation is under our control. The resulting embryos are artifacts of our will, power and control.

Knowing that the "manufactured" is never of the same status as the "manufacturer", what does is say about cloned embryos as a class? Are they human like us? Are they less than human? Are the more than human? Are they "post-human"?

And what does it say about a society that tolerates the creation of a class of people, like us but "less" than us? A class of people upon which we are allowed to "feed"? Once this is openly tolerated, it is not the same society. It can't be. After all, what happens to human dignity and freedom, when we are just a pool of genetic material waiting to be manipulated and manufactured by our own hands?

These are the kind of questions we should be debating. Not rehashing this into a debate on abortion. It is a fundamental aspect of how we as a society want to live both now and in the future. Where is that debate happening?

Senator Brownback has introduced a bill to ban any and all attempts at human cloning. It deserves our support.

The prospect of human cloning, so repulsive to contemplate, is the occasion for deciding whether we shall be slaves of unregulated innovation, and ultimately its artifacts, or whether we shall remain free human beings who guide our powers toward the enhancement of human dignity.
--Leon Kass, Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity.