Friday, October 22, 2004

All 191 member nations of the United Nations have come out against human reproductive cloning. But only 50 of those nations (including the United States) have called for a total ban on human cloning which would include thereputic cloning.

All 191 UN member nations have come out against reproductive cloning thatcould be used to make human beings, but many support so-called therapeutic cloning for research into debilitating diseases and spinal cord injuries.

The United States and Costa Rica have been joined by more than 50 nations, mostly Catholic or developing countries, in sponsoring a resolution calling for a total ban.

Their resolution calls cloning "unethical, morally reproachable and contrary to due respect" for human beings.

I was thinking about this quite a bit last night after reading Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) who is for all types of human cloning. Reynolds supports human reproductive cloning despite the moral questions of every country in the world. Questions for Glenn:

1. If a gifted person is cloned (like an athelete or an artist), would it be moral to recreate the environment for the clone that resulted in the original person's success? In other words, if you copy Tiger Woods, would it be right to push golf on the clone his entire life?

2. Would it be moral for a poor family to purchase the needed cells to clone an NBA star? Or, perhaps more reasonably, would it be moral for wealthy alumni to get women to host clones of the 1993 Chicago Bulls in return for money and free tuition to their alma mater.

3. Would it be moral to clone a talented person who suffered from a debilitating disease? Would it be moral to clone Stephen Hawking? Mary Tyler Moore? Lou Gehrig?

4. Would it be moral for parents to clone several copies of a child over time for use in an ongoing sitcom on television, so that the child would appear not to age over the course of the show?

5. Would it be moral to clone a person after death who didn't give permission for a copy to be made? Ted Williams, for example... or perhaps Albert Einstein.

It seems these questions could go on forever. For an in-depth analysis and hours of interesting reading, look into "The President's Council on Bioethics report on Human Cloning."

Example from the report:

With such possible benefits in view, what reasons could we have for saying "no" to cloning-for-biomedical-research? Why not leave this possible avenue of medical progress open? Why not put the cup to our lips? In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare has Leontes, King of Silicia, explain why one might not.

There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present
The abhorr'd ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides
With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.

To discern the spider in the cup is to see the moral reality of cloning-for-biomedical-research differently. It is to move beyond questions of immediately evident benefits or harms alone toward deeper questions about what an ongoing program of cloning-for-biomedical-research would mean.
How can you not love a scientific, presidential report that quotes "Winter's Tale."

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