Friday, May 24, 2013

When is Cloning not Cloning?

Scientist successfully cloned a human being last week. Didn't hear that? You're not alone. Few people heard about this. The news was underplayed in most media reports. News stories often acted as if the experiment merely turned "unfertilized eggs" and skin cells into embryonic stem cells.

(See, for example: - titled "Human Stem Cells Created by Cloning")

Wesley Smith in National Review analyzes the reasons for the inaccuracies in the reports:
First, we just went through a very busy news week. But I think the primary reason is that the scientists and media pretended that this wasn't really human cloning for political reasons; just a step in that general direction. 
I would add the more charitable possibility that journalist simply don't understand the science, and the scientists aren't eager to explain it -- possibly because cloing humans is illegal in many places.

But the process was exactly the same as the one that produced "Dolly" the sheep. Smith continues:
Just like Dolly the cloned sheep was a cloned sheep embryo before she was a born lamb, these human embryos were nascent human beings created through asexual means. They were not implanted into a uterus, as Dolly’s embryo was, but destroyed for their stem cells. Indeed, they were created precisely to be destroyed. That is a very big moral deal.

... a huge deal, opening up the possibility of genetic engineering of embryos, creating custom made fetuses as organ farms, and the birth of a cloned baby...
The scientists and the media owe us an accurate explanation. If we don't know what's happening, we can't properly consider the moral implications.