Re: "Cloning Breakthrough" not one

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 15:23:07 MST

On Mon, 26 Nov 2001, Mike Lorrey asked:

> Can anyone point to some arguments against reproductive cloning
> that are not just "because it's so" statements?

Michael West kind of summed it up on the Today show. He said
something like "I know why these people are against cloning.
They think if they ban cloning it validates their position
that abortion and IVF are wrong." If they can get cloning
banned it puts them on track toward eliminating a variety
of other things they do not like. A cloning ban might
give them some improved arguments for challenging Roe V. Wade.

The *fundamental* problem with "reproductive" cloning (where
you actually intend to produce a real live sentient human
being) is that there are no indications that we have a good
understanding for exactly which genes get "imprinted" (marked
as coming from the father or mother) and we have no means to
do the imprinting that is normally done during the maturation
of eggs or sperm. Further, we have no really good feel for
whether we have successfully "rolled back" the state information
in cells taken from adults so that development will proceed
normally. The experiments with animals to date have shown
that even if you get an animal that survives the developmental
process, you still may have handicaps of various types.

So the risks are significantly greater than normal that you
might have a handicapped child. Many people would argue
that its iffy from a moral/extropic position to bring
potentially handicapped children into the world *now*, when
you could wait a few years and have significantly reduced
those risks (when we know more). The thing that is probably
*really* annoying the "right-to-lifers" is the fact that you
are likely to increase the abortion rate because if doctors notice
a malformed fetus is developing they are probably likely
to recomend its termination. You could imagine couples
going through several abortions before they got a child
that was developing properly.

Now, of course "therapeutic" cloning is a different game
because you only need to have "good" genes that function
properly in the type of tissue you are trying to produce.
So the success probabilities for therapeutic cloning should
eventually be quite a bit higher than reproductive cloning.

Any serious "philosophical" arguments against cloning in
general seem to revolve around a fundamental respect for
what is "human". They are essentially arguments for
maintaining humanity as it is. They seem to me to be
curtains pulled over the argument that we are "made
in God's image" and shouldn't change that.


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