Re: Count sheep, anyone?

Loren Haarsma (lhaarsma@OPAL.TUFTS.EDU)
Thu, 27 Feb 1997 15:47:47 -0500 (EST)

Scott Oakman quoted:

> "If you clone a frog, you get a cloned frog. It hops and eats grasshoppers,
> bugs and mosquitoes. If you clone a human, what do you get? Another human.
> Big deal." [Robert McKinnel, Professor of Genetics and Cell Biology,
> University of Minnesota, as quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press today]
> Agree or disagree? Is a cloned baby just another human baby, no more or
> less individual than a baby conceived in the traditional way, or by in vitro
> fertilization?

That's a good start.

I'd like to see this topic discussed more, too.
There are several issues to sort out.

1. If someone tried to clone a human using current methods, there would
be a lot of embryos lost along the way. That's a serious problem, IMO,
and that problem is shared with other new forms of reproductive technology.
If and when cloning of primates reaches a "success rate" similar to the
success rate for normal fertilization leading to development (roughly
50%?), then that particular objection would greatly diminish.

2. There is the question of motives. People conceive children in the
traditional way for both noble reasons and less-than-noble reasons. It's
easy to imagine less-than-noble reasons for conceiving children via cloning.
Is it possible to have noble reasons for conceiving a child by cloning?
Perhaps, though no clear cases spring to mind. Even so, we don't have
laws requiring all would-be parents to have purely noble motives.

3. There is the question of how children are raised. There is good
reason to fear that a child cloned for "egotistical" reasons will not be
raised properly. This would need to be addressed by legal or social
controls. But here, it seems, the focus should be on how children are
raised, not how they are conceived.

Within the traditional Catholic framework on reproductive issues, the
question is easily settled. But within the common modern-day Protestant
thinking on contraception and in vitro fertilization, what additional
arguments could be raised that conception by cloning must be *entirely*
ruled out (assuming the issues 1 & 3 are dealt with)?

Loren Haarsma