Reprinted with permission from the Council for Biotechnology Policy in Washington DC
We do not need to speculate about the motives of the Raelians in pursuing their cloning agenda, claiming to have achieved a successful clone, or naming her “Eve.” They are vigorous self-publicists; they demonstrate the well-known fact that clever people can hold crazy beliefs; and they seem to enjoy teasing the world’s press as much as the world’s press likes selling their teasing headlines.
ﾠ But “Eve” is interesting. In Genesis, it is said that she is named Eve as she is “the mother of all living.” Eve the clone, if clone she be, is surely the mother of all manufactured; the epitome of the ambiguities built in to the cloning worldview.
ﾠ Most of us are against cloning but somewhat ambivalent about clones. If we saw the movie The Sixth Day, with a title also culled from the book of Genesis, we gained a perspective on one likely future (routine cloning of pets) and one less likely (a judicial decision to kill successfully cloned persons).
ﾠ Perhaps the most ambivalent of us would seem to be Senator Orrin Hatch, with his strange theory that clonal human beings are not the same as regular human beings, and may not be really “human” at all in the way the rest of us are. It is a strange and highly dangerous belief, and it is caused, logically, by his conflicting desires to preserve his pro-life credentials and buy the BIO line that experimental embryo cloning is a good thing. It is a deadly combination.
Eve is probably a con, and the same is also true for Dr. Antinori’s claimed clonal pregnancy and any others that are floating around. If one of these turns out to be right, the heavy hitters of the embryology world will need to eat their hats. They have been saying that it would be extraordinarily difficult toﾠcloneﾠa healthy baby. By the same token, investors in Advanced Cell Technologies, the Massachusetts biotech start-up that claimed in November 2001 to have successfully cloned human embryos – they died very soon after the first cell divisions; it was all hype – will want their money back.
ﾠ But there will, we may soberly reflect, be an Eve sooner or later, and she will stand in human history as the mother of all manufactured; the product of the triumph of the human mind and its technological capacities over the sexual procreativity that lies so close to the heart of the human experience. What shall we do with her?
First, of course, we shall need to protect her from the likes of Senator Hatch. For a clonal child is surely a child. When people ask, Does a clone have a soul?, that is their question: is this another one of us, however strange her origins, or is she something other? Does her status as manufactured human deny her being human at all? It is not difficult to repudiate the Hatch Hypothesis on the simple ground that in every way a clonal embryo is indistinguishable from an embryo conceived naturally or through in vitro techniques. If that is true of the embryo, it remains true of the baby and the child and adult. She is of our species, located as surely as you and I in the great genealogy – though, as we know, her birth mother is her twin sister, her birth father her brother-in-law, and her birth mother’s parents her parents also. Cloning commodifies by treating persons like things; it does not make them into things. So Eve will need to be welcomed as a member of the human community, damaged though her psyche will be and weird her family relationships.
ﾠ This second Eve will be one of us. The second Adam, the Scriptures teach, came to rescue us. The second Eve will surely lead us more deeply into the mire, as the bright line that separates persons and projects is erased and we are taken one decisive step closer to the true designer baby (with genetic modifications built in as features), and to the melding of human and machine (mecha and orga, as Spielberg’s AI Artificial Intelligence designated them) in “technosapiens” and a human-robotic future.
ﾠ Eve was the mother of all living. The Raelians have made a clever point with their reference to Genesis chapter 2. But they have not read on into chapter 3. It was also she who passed the fruit to Adam, her husband, “and he did eat.” She takes on the role of temptress, offering a choice that Adam should never have had to face. Eve II, without a doubt, will do likewise. She will serve as temptress, beguiling us with biotech’s promise and its capacity to give us choices we have never before had. She will be the mother of all commodification.
ﾠ Dr. Cameron serves as the Executive Chairman of the Center for Bioethics and Culture
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