WASHINGTON, DC - (Cybercast News Service from ProLifeInfo.org) It used to be easy to separate reality from myth when it
came to cloning.
However, in light of technological advances, a private group of scientists
in the United Kingdom now says its intends to clone a human by the year
2003, an audacious goal that may increase the public's acceptance of an
idea that not too long ago was limited to moviemaking fiction.
While Hollywood depictions of a genetically engineered military capable of
superhuman feats might seem outlandish and even laughable to those who
advocate cloning for medical reasons, some critics say such a scenario
could one day become reality.
The onset of cloning capabilities has created a desensitized public, said
Daniel McConchie, the director of operations and policy for the Center for
Bioethics and Human Dignity. Continuing down that path will lead to "the
practice becoming even more acceptable" to society, he said.
For instance, McConchie continued, "cloning was a bad word when it came
out. But attaching the word therapeutic, it tones it down, makes it more
In addition to offering the public medical breakthroughs via stem cell
research, scientists could also sway at least some segments of society -
initially, the wealthy, according to most critics - into various levels of
acceptance with cosmetic enticements. The Financial Times, for instance,
recently reported the possibility of gene research leading "people to
alter the human [gene] line ... to make their descendants more beautiful
or intelligent or athletic."
Many are unsettled by the publicized benefits of genetic research for
medical and cosmetic purposes, which could eventually drive society to
blur its lines of ethical and moral considerations. Cloning critics also
argue that a science fiction sounding scenario of a genetically engineered
populace run amok may not be so far-fetched after all.
"It just seems like science fiction," said William Saunders, of the Family
Research Council. "But we're very close to that. If people don't stop and
see what all the terrible things are done in the name of science, then the
human consciousness becomes dulled to this, so I wouldn't say anything is
Those who scoff at the idea of, say, taking the cells of a killed soldier
and engineering a replacement more physically equipped to endure the
hardships of war, are not only denying that such technology
"theoretically, could work," Saunders said, but are also ignoring the
historical realities of government's willingness to conduct ethically
In late 1993, for example, revelations surfaced that thousands of
government-sanctioned and sponsored human radiation experiments had been
conducted on patients between 1944 and 1974. Some of those who
participated in the tests had not given their consent.
The Pentagon and CIA have fielded accusations for decades that
high-ranking officials engaged in extensive mind-control experiments with
both knowing and unwitting subjects who were administered or fed LSD and
other hallucinogens - all in the name of advancing science and U.S.
U.S. government sanctioned syphilis experiments conducted in Tuskegee,
Alabama in the 1930s and the Nazi atrocities committed against Jewish
concentration camp victims, revealed at the Nuremberg trials in 1945, make
it feasible that science and government could end up pursuing ethically
questionable cloning experiments, all under the pretense of benefiting
humanity, Saunders said.
Meanwhile, many countries race to be first.
Britain may be leading the race toward notoriety; overseas reports
indicate a "private consortium of scientists plans to clone a human being
within the next two years" in the United Kingdom.
Karl John Shields, an assistant editor and research associate at the
Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society agrees it will be
difficult to rein in scientists seeking notoriety and intellectual
challenge. "We ought not to ... do research upon people who cannot give
their own consent," Shields said, summarizing the ethical considerations
he said should be addressed before any human experiments are conducted.
"We ought not to use people as a means to an end."