Monday, March 9, 2009

Obama's 'No Reproductive Cloning' Promise Doesn't Reassure Me

I heard it on NPR this afternoon, and read it again tonight: President Obama promises that his go-ahead on stem cell research, using freshly-killed babies, doesn't mean that he'll stand for reproductive cloning of human beings.

I read the same thing tonight:

"President Obama said Monday that he will ensure the government never "opens the door" for human cloning, before signing an order to lift restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"Some critics say the stem cell research can lead to human cloning, but Obama said his administration would develop 'strict guidelines' to avoid such experimentation.

" 'We cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse. And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction,' Obama said. 'It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.'..." (FOXNews) [emphasis mine]

I don't think that cloning people is a good idea, I'm not at all reassured by President Obama's pledge. It's not that I don't believe that he's sincere.

I believe that President Obama will not, so far as he is able, allow human clones to grow up as free people.

It's the sort of human cloning that he rather carefully didn't mention in his speech that concerns me.

Human Clones: For Reproduction, or for Parts

I am of the 'if it looks, waddles, quacks, and swims like a duck, it's probably a duck' school. Cloned human beings would look, walk, speak (eventually: it takes us all a while to learn) and, if taught, swim like human beings: not "soulless monsters of science run amok." Odds are, in my book, cloned people, artificially conceived, will be just as human as I am.

Just as I don't doubt the humanity of people who started out in a glass container, and are walking around today. I discussed clones about a month ago, including the humanity of clones.

The way I see it, cloning human beings can be done for two reasons:
  • Reproductive Cloning
    • Artificially conceiving someone who is genetically identical to someone else: a sort of younger identical twin
  • Therapeutic cloning - a term which might be used several ways
    • Allowing someone's body to grow a missing arm
    • Growing a clone of a 'real' person, and using the clone
      • For replacement parts
      • As an experimental subject
Re-growing arms isn't as crazy as it sounds. Researchers learned how to let middle-aged mice regenerate lost limbs. (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers)

That sort of "cloning" would be controversial, as inoculations are to this day, but I don't see a moral problem with enhancing the body's native abilities. On the other hand, growing someone so that the person could be broken down for parts seems wrong.

I'm not concerned that the federal government will provide funding for reproductive cloning during the Obama administration.

I am, however, concerned that someone will get the bright idea of growing people for their parts: and that 'non-reproductive' cloning may be perfectly okay under the new rules.

This will bear watching.

Related posts: In the news: Background:
  • "Unexpected Regeneration in Middle-Aged Mice"
    Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers (2009)
    (Brandon Reines, Lily I. Cheng, Polly Matzinger. Rejuvenation Research. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/rej.2008.0792. )

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.