RE: "Cloning Breakthrough" not one

Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 18:52:41 MST

Louis Newstrom writes:
> Who is responsible for taking care of a clone? What if a batch turns out
> with low IQ. Will the company that created them take care of them or kill
> them? Just as with the abortion debate, when a clone becomes a citizen with
> rights is going to be a big debate.

This is a good point, and it applies to any sort of reproductive
engineering technology, beyond just cloning. Who is responsible for
a newborn baby? Babies need someone to care for them for many years.
No child should be born but to a parent that will love them and take
care of them.

Louis suggests that a company would create a clone and perhaps somehow
assume responsibility for it. But this is contrary to our understanding
of human emotional needs. A company cannot raise a child, that must be
done by one or more loving individuals who form a personal bond with him
or her. Corporate structures are based on roles where the individuals who
fill those positions are somewhat interchangeable. This is inconsistent
with the kinds of personal, biological relationships that a growing
child requires. But I think many people will share Louis' perspective
that cloning suggests a sort of factory based creation of living human
beings. This is not acceptable given our current understanding of what
babies need.

Likewise Louis' idea that there would be some question about clones'
rights suggests that these are in some sense manufactured objects rather
than human babies. In fact it seems clear that clones should have the
same rights as any other person.

Then there is the issue of genetic contributions. Today we hold people
responsible, at least financially, who have made a genetic contribution to
a child, even when they did not want the child to be born and would have
wanted to see it aborted at a pre-sentient state. Even when people have
voluntarily contributed genetic material to a child they don't raise, as
when a woman gives a child up for adoption, or when a man contributes to
a sperm bank, they will often feel curiosity or even guilt, wondering how
"their" child is faring in the world. Their genetic contribution gives
them a sense of responsibility even if they have chosen to ignore it.

If cloning becomes possible from mature cells, then in principle any one
of our cells could be turned into a child. Since we spread cells around
all the time, it means that in principle we could have genetic children
all over the world and not know about it. Cloning could be done without
parental consent and raises difficult issues about responsibility for
the resulting children. Could you get stuck with a maternity/paternity
suit if your genetic child or clone showed up one day?


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