This gets so old: In Missouri there is a pending fight over an initiative to legalize human therapeutic cloning. The Missouri Secretary of State has been sued for permitting the signature petitions to be released. The basis of the suit is that the petitions claim that the initiative bans “human cloning,” when in fact, the initiative would explicitly legalize it, while not permitting cloned babies to be born. (As I have had to restate ad nauseum, biologically, the act of human cloning is asexual reproduction performed via somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT. This act of cloning culminates in the creation of a new human embryo. Human cloning is not the birth of a cloned baby.)

It isn’t that hard. Really. Yet, here is how David A. Lieb, the AP reporter, described therapeutic cloning in the story about the lawsuit: “But the proposal would allow what’s known as therapeutic cloning, or somatic cell nuclear transfer. In that procedure, the nucleus of an egg is replaced with the nucleus from something such as a skin or nerve cell. The altered egg then is stimulated to grow in a lab dish, and researchers remove the resulting stem cells.” (Here is the link.)

What did Lieb (or his editor) leave out? Ah, yes: the fact that SCNT creates an embryo, which is a new human life. That is what grows, not the egg, which ceases to exist upon the successful completion of cloning just as it ceases to exist upon the completion of natural conception. The stem cells are derived by destroying the embryo. Thus, in therapeutic cloning human life is created for the purpose of destroying and harvesting it, which is one reason why it is so morally controversial—and I suspect, why it is almost never accurately described in media reports.

The MSM is totally in the tank for therapeutic cloning, but one would hope that there would be one writer in one outlet with the professional integrity to accurately describe the act of human cloning. But I am not holding my breath.

(Full disclosure: I have been informally advising opponents of the initiative on a pro bono basis, but have not been involved in the litigation.)

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