The media fell for the latest, ” I can clone a baby ,” publicity stunt yesterday. Now scientists are weighing in sputtering outrage at the thought of trying human reproductive cloning. The only problem is that there is much less to their seeming opposition then meets the eye.

As usual, their “ethical” opposition to human cloning has virtually nothing to do with the inherent wrongness of human cloning, but merely reflect safety concerns. From the story :

Professor Azim Surani of the University of Cambridge said that Dr Zavos had breached the taboo on creating human clones with the intention of transferring them into the wombs of women in order to achieve a pregnancy—a procedure that is a criminal offence in Britain. “This affair shows a complete lack of responsibility. If true, Zavos has again failed to observe the universally-accepted ban on human cloning, which was agreed because most of the resulting embryos from such animal experiments are abnormal,” Professor Surani said. “This is yet another episode designed to gain maximum publicity without performing rigorous animal experiments or presenting it for peer review in a scientific journal. He has the opportunity to do this for his claim on making animal-human hybrid embryos in culture,” he said.

Note that this is not the same thing as stating that cloning is wrong. This next quote is more of the same:
“The interesting thing here is that for the first time these cloning attempts appear to have been documented,” said Professor Wolf Reik, an expert in reproductive biology at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, yesterday. “We have no reason to think that human cloning will not work—it works in primates—but it may take many, many attempts. “But to say it is substantially safer now, with new technical developments, is nonsense; the available techniques are still very inefficient, and the great majority of embryos die in utero, or are born with abnormalities. This is why, in my opinion, it remains problematical for it to be carried out on humans,” Professor Reik added.

Here’s the thing: From what I can tell—and not just from this story—most scientists and bioethicists don’t think reproductive cloning is inherently wrong at all. Heck, Ian Wilmut the administrator of the team that cloned Dolly has said it should be done in some circumstances . Thus, should it ever become “safe,” the order of the day would be “Full speed ahead.”

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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