Thursday, January 17, 2008

CNN: Scientists make cloned embryos from skin cells

They have embryos that they say are defiitely clones of the donors, but, they can't manage to get stem cells, which is the reason, supposedly, that these experiments are permitted.

I find the science fascinating, the logic flawed, and the ethics missing. The poor embryos, which will wind up in a biology department incinerator, are a complete human, in potentia. At what stage is a human organism an person? At age 21? At birth? But, it's a crime to harm a baby while it's inside it's mother's uterus. So, the legal system tacitly acknowledges an unborn fetus as a person. Do we say that an identical twin isn't a person, that they are only a clone of their twin? Even if these embryos are not producing extractable stem cells, could they be implanted in a human uterus to produce a viable baby? And if they can, will these poor babies be considered human? or will they be property?

In college, one of my required classes was Biological Ethics. I was never quite able to determine where the teacher's feeling lay, on most subjects, which probably meant he was doing a good job. But, my group presentation was on cloning. At the time, cloning was very very new, the first sheep had just been produced. The idea of cloning a human was purely speculative fiction. However, I had examples of how cloning effected society, drawn from classic science fiction. Go read "Friday", by Robert A. Heinlein, and think about what it would be like to be a clone.

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