Woo-Suk-Hwang, the world’s first human cloner, has resigned all public posts because he paid for the human eggs used in cloning research and then mislead the journal Nature about it. (He will continue his research.) This may well doom the international cloned embryonic stem cell bank that Hwang intended to create.

Ethics are a huge issue in this cloning debate. One of many problems is how to procure human eggs for use in cloning (one per try), which can be an onerous and even, dangerous process for the women “donors.” As Hwang stated, “We needed a lot of ova [eggs] for the research but there were not enough ova around.”

In the face of this problem, look for pro-cloners to begin to attempt to loosen ethical guidelines involving egg procurement.

And consider this: If eggs are a problem now, when relatively few are required for research, what will it be like should tens of millions be required for therapeutic cloning treatments. Some researchers say they will be able to be obtained by morphing embryonic stem cells into eggs. But that will take years and much testing, if it can be done at all. Using animal eggs would create mostly human chimeras, which would be an ethical problem in itself. Then there are the destitute women of the world, which many feminists and others worry will be exploited as so many egg farms. They are a more readily available source for eggs and would be easy to exploit.

I have said it before and I will keep saying it: Human cloning is inherently dehumanizing; for the clone, for women, and to society.

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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