(from the weeklystandard.com) SENATORS DIANNE FEINSTEIN and Orin Hatch have just introduced Senate Bill 812, which explicitly legalizes human cloning and–since a shortage of human eggs is currently impeding human cloning research (one egg is needed for each attempt at cloning)–the bill also authorizes researchers to pay women to undergo egg procurement.
And if the purpose of the legislation wasn’t bad enough, there’s its name: Feinstein and Hatch mendaciously named S. 812 the “Human CloningBan and Stem Cell Protection Act of 2007.”
How can a bill to legalize human cloning be instead called a ban? Through the time-tested method of disingenuous legislating–the bogus definition. Here’s a rarely discussed truth: Key words and terms inlegislation mean only what a bill’s authors say they mean, rather than their actual definitions. If a dung beetle was defined in legislation as a butterfly, for the purposes of that bill, the dung beetle would be a butterfly. Which is essentially what S. 812 does. It defines the term “human cloning” inaccurately and unscientifically so that Feinstein andHatch can pretend their bill will outlaw human cloning.
To understand the dishonesty of S. 812, we must first define cloning accurately and describe exactly what it is that the process creates. “Cloning” is the popular term given for “asexual reproduction,” which in mammals (theoretically, including humans) is accomplished throughsomatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)–the same method used to createDolly the sheep. SCNT is easy to describe but hard to accomplish:
* First, the nucleus is removed from an egg cell and replaced withthe nucleus taken from a somatic (body) cell. As a consequence of the nuclear transfer, the genetically modified egg has the full complementof chromosomes.
* Next, an electric current or chemical is used to stimulate the genetically modified egg.
* If the SCNT process works and all goes well, a cloned embryo comesinto being, a point recently affirmed by James Thomson, the scientist who first derived human embryonic stem cells, and who stated regardinghuman SCNT, “If you create an embryo by nuclear transfer, and you give it to somebody who didn’t know where it came from, there would be notest you could do on that embryo to say where it came from. It is what it is”–meaning a human embryo.
Just as there is no further fertilization after sexual conception, once the SCNT process is finished, there is no more cloning–a new organism has already come into being. From this point on the question becomes what to do with the cloned embryo that has been created. If it is to be destroyed in research, it is sometimes called “therapeutic” orresearch cloning. If it is to be implanted and gestated to birth, it is usually called reproductive cloning. But whichever use is to be made ofthe embryo, the act of cloning is complete once the SCNT process hasbeen fully accomplished.
With this basic biology in mind, we now turn to “human cloning” as(mis)defined in S. 812. In the definitions section of the bill, it states:
The term ‘human cloning’ means implanting or attempting to implant the product of nuclear transplantation into auterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus.
This definition is pure bunk. Implantation is no more human cloning then implanting an embryo created via IVF is human fertilization. Rather, implantation is one potential use of the embryocreated through human cloning. The bill’s definition is junk biology. The point being to allow Senators Feinstein and Hatch to pretend that they are banning human cloning when their bill actually legalizes it.
The Feinstein-Hatch bill also purports to outlaw the purchase and sale of human eggs, a matter rightly seen by many feminists and humanrights activists as necessary to prevent the exploitation of poor women for biotechnological research.
As we saw in the description of SCNT, each attempt at cloning requires one egg. But human cloning is very difficult and will take along time to perfect. (South Korean cloning researcher Hwang Wu-sukburned through some 2,000 eggs and was still unable to create a single cloned human embryo.) Thus, for cloning research to really take off,scientists will need tens of thousands of human eggs. But eggs are a rare commodity and scientists are already complaining that an egg shortage is holding back cloning research.
Making matters more difficult, eggs are not currently easy to obtain. It requires that egg suppliers undergo an onerous and sometimes dangerous procedure known as super-ovulation in which a woman of child-bearing years is injected with high doses of hormones so that her ovaries release 10 to 20 eggs in a cycle, instead of the usual one.These eggs are then removed with a needle inserted through the vaginalwall. This procedure is not only uncomfortable (it requiresanesthesia), but it can also be risky. About 5 percent of women whoundergo super-ovulation experience serious side effects, such as infection, infertility, paralysis, loss of limbs (due to blood clots), and even death.
Given these dangers, few women readily volunteer to become egg donors. As a consequence, some researchers argue that they should be authorized to buy eggs from women. Feminists and others object,worrying that egg markets will exploit poor women who, unlike their better-off sisters, will be enticed to risk their lives, health, and fecundity so that Big Biotech can get rich from human cloning.
And just as it “bans” “human cloning,” S. 812 purports to ban egg purchases, too. Only it doesn’t. Section II (e)(2) states:
Prohibition on Purchase or Sale–No human oocyte or unfertilized blastocyst [meaning cloned embryo] may be acquired, received, or otherwise transferred for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.
Sounds good, right? Not so fast: What Feinstein and Hatch appear to take away from Big Biotech with one hand, they then give back to withthe other, by restricting the meaning of the term “valuable consideration” in Section 2(C)(ii). To wit:
The term “valuable consideration” does notinclude payments… to compensate a donor of one or more humanoocytes for the time or inconvenience associated with such donation.
So, while the eggs themselves may not be purchased, women can be paidto for the “discomfort and inconvenience” of being super-ovulated toproduce the eggs, which, money in hand, she would then “donate” for cloning research. This sleight of hand would put Mandrake the Magicianto shame.
THROUGH DECEPTIVE DEFINITIONS and smoke and mirror redirection, the Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Protection Act of 2007 claims toban human cloning, but actually legalizes it. It purports to prohibitegg buying, when instead it explicitly opens the door to paying womento be egg “donors.” And it purports to protect “stem-cell research,”even though that area of experimentation isn’t anywhere mentioned in the bill–otherthan in the title. The question then, is whether Dianne Feinstein and Orin Hatch are intentionally deceiving the American people, or are merely ignorant about the content of their own legislation.
- Sperm Donation2022.03.15Venus Rising with Edward Saulig: Reflections of a Sperm Donor
- Bioethics2022.03.13Dr. C. Ben Mitchell: 2022 Ramsey Award Winner
- #BigFertility2022.03.10Documentary Explores One Woman’s Journey through Egg Donation
- Bioethics2022.03.09Questioning the “Science” of the Gender Industry