Pro cloning biotechnology advocates have cast aside virtually all restraints. First, they said they “only” wanted access to leftover embryos remaining from in vitro fertilization treatments for use in embryonic stem cell research. Then, “all” they wanted was to be able to create new cloned human embryos from which they would derive embryonic stem cells. Now, they want to be able to implant cloned embryos and take them through the ninth month-and this radical slide down the slippery slope has only taken four years.
Human cloning is barely in its infancy. But even though it is not yet technologically possible to engage in creating cloned embryos for implantation, gestation, and experimentation, this macabre and immoral research is clearly on the drawing board.
Last year New Jersey became first state to legalize the creation of and experimenting upon cloned human fetuses when Governor James McGreevey signed a bill (S-1909) that purports to outlaw human cloning, but which actually permits it. Indeed, typical of such legislation, the crucial language is found in the definitions. Thus, while the law makes the “cloning of a human being” a felony, it defines that term as follows:
As used in this section, “cloning a human being,” means the replication of a human individual by cultivating a cell with genetic material [the SCNT cloning process] through the egg, embryo, fetal and newborn stages into a new human individual. [Emphasis added]
Notice that the law only prohibits cloned babies from entering the newborn stages and becoming a “new human individual.” Thus, if the biotechnologists had cloned embryos gestated through the ninth month-but did not permit them to be born-the law would not have been broken.
Similar legislation has been introduced in Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and Texas. Indeed, the Illinois legislation came within one vote of passage last year.
And now, Washington’s S 5594 and Minnesota’s S.F 730, are the latest states to see bills that would permit cloning through the ninth month, using the same language found in last year’s Illinois cloning bill
It is the policy of [name of state] that research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation, is permitted upon full consideration of the ethical and medical implications of this research.
Neither of these bills would outlaw implanting embryos-whether cloned or natural-into natural or artificial uteri for purposes of gestating late stage embryos or fetuses for use in deriving stem cells. And since that which is not illegal, is by definition legal, if passed, these bills would permit the implantation of clone or natural human embryos for use in research and destruction.
It is also important to note that human embryonic germ cells, which are both specifically referenced in the states’ bills, cannot be obtained from embryos in Petri dishes but can only are derived after 6-8 weeks of development. Moreover, adult stem cells can be obtained from fetuses, infants, and children, as well as adults. Thus, this would permit late stage cloned or natural fetuses to be harvested for their stem cells.
Put this altogether, and it becomes clear that what at least some biotech advocates seek is nothing less than a legal license to engage in fetal farming.
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