Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is anybody aware of any good reasons for reproductive cloning? This is the best the President's Council on Bioethics (which is arguably a rather biased institution) has got (bold=Bioethics Council, regular=my humble opinions):

Reasons for Reproductive Cloning : President's Council on Bioethics, Staff Working Paper (Jan 2002)

The reasons for human reproductive cloning can perhaps be broken down into two basic groups: liberal (a through f) and eugenic (g through i). The first are recognizable and defensible within the core values of modern liberal democracy; the second run against the grain of our prejudices -- for now, if not forever.

Reproductive cloning, it is argued:

a. Allows infertile couples to have children who are biologically related to one of the parents.1

This case would only be necessary if both individuals are infertile; a situation of low probability. In these rare cases, adoption is a much easier, and defensibly a more moral, choice.

b. Allows nontraditional couples and individuals (same-sex couples, single mothers, single fathers) to have children who are biologically related to themselves.

In the cases of same-sex couples, adoption is the choice that will provide greater benefit for a greater number of children. Single parenting is generally not a recommended option; children who grow up in single-parent homes are often worse off than their counterparts with two parents. This is not to say that single-parents should not have children; they should simply go through the much more intensely regulated path of adoption or sperm/egg banks.

c. Allows people to have children without the risk of known genetic diseases.

So would gene therapy, IVF, or genetic screening of embryos.

d. Allows people to attempt to "replace" children who have died prematurely.

Oh god, this is horrible. I needn't discuss the atrocity of the psychological, emotional, and societal damage that would be caused by this.

e. Allows parents to produce children who would be ideal transplant donors for a desperately ill existing child.

This is even worse; a child should never have to live knowing they were conceived only for the purposes of helping a sibling.

f. Expands reproductive freedom and reproductive choice.

What evidence is there to show that this is a good thing? People are generally stupid, selfish, immature, and unwise; give them more choices, and they are more likely to choose wrong. (Yes, I'm an absolutist.)

g. Allows families or society to reproduce individuals of great genius, talent, or beauty, presumed to be based on their desirable or superior genetic make-ups.

"If you want sperm that produces Nobel Prize winners you should be contacting people like my father, a poor immigrant tailor. What have my sperm given the world? Two guitarists!"
-- Biochemist George Wald, on being solicited for a semen sample by William Shockley's sperm bank for Nobel Prize-winning scientists. (Who is apparantly harsh on his two kids.)

h. Allows society to prepare for the unpredictable nature of the future: for example, extreme circumstances may require the re-creation of certain desirable genomes.

How is this even relevant? We'll cross that bridge if we get there.

i. Human cloning is the next step in human evolution; the gateway to the genetic self-improvement of mankind; and the desirable continuation of modern civilization's mastery of nature for the relief of man's estate.

Some of us would argue that cloning is a biologically stupid thing to do; maintaining genetic diversity is crucial to the success of any species. Even if this was not the case, these supposed advocates of genetic self-improvement of mankind have missed their mark; genetic engineering, not cloning, is the future of man's fight against his nature.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home