Friday, March 28, 2008

Legalizing the Genetically Engineered Human Clone

Knock. Knock. Who’s there?
It is the Genetically Engineered Human

The reality of cloning genetically engineered human beings is an issue that is knocking at your door today. In fact, some members of the UK parliament are advocating the legalization of cloning human life. The offspring of these human clones will literally have 2 biological mothers and one biological father. One mother will provide the mitochondrial inherited DNA from the egg while the other mother and father will provide the nuclear inherited DNA. The argument for justification of this legislation is to enable women who have congenital mitochondrial disease to bear healthy children.

The current legalization of in vitro fertilization clinics has allowed the “natural” cloning of a human being in a test-tube using the egg and sperm from a man and a woman. This procedure produces a genetically conceived child containing DNA from both parents from an otherwise infertile couple. But today, using genetic engineering we have the technology to clone a human being from 1 person, multiple persons or from different sources of DNA. These advanced human cloning techniques produce genetic offspring that would be impossible to conceive naturally between a woman and man.

The public is not aware of the seriousness and significance of this potential new human cloning law in the UK. If this law is passed it would be the first step toward legalizing the production of human offspring from “unnatural” genetically engineered human cloning procedures. Scientists are pushing the legalization of human cloning procedures and masquerading them under the umbrella of “fertilization rights” and “alleviating human suffering” without any responsibility to first provide the public a fair understanding and review. Scientists are neglecting to address pertinent bioethical issues involved in human cloning that will impact human dignity, human rights and will affect us economically and culturally.

Some bioethical questions might be…
1. Is it a right for every woman to bear a child, even if that child is genetically engineered and not a true natural genetic product of a couple?
2. Is it a right for every woman to bear a genetically engineered child, only if it the child would be healthier? How about to bear a more intelligent child? Or to bear a better looking child?
3. Is it ethical for a child to be a genetic clone of three parents?
4. Which of the three genetic parents are legally responsible for the cloned child since each parent will contribute a significant amount of DNA to that cloned child’s progeny and inherited lineage?
5. What rights does a cloned child have prior to birth?
6. Should a genetically engineered human person have the same rights as a natural human being? (Do not exclude this as a silly question. Without laws on the books, you might envision the production of genetically engineered cloned males to purposely fight wars or to act as servants or slaves. Or on the other hand, scientists might engage in cloning a superior race with superior intelligence which may result in the “natural” population being discriminated against.)

The public had better take notice. Genetically engineered human cloning is a bioethics issue that is standing right at your front door. Can you hear it knocking? Are you informed enough to open the door? Or will scientists and policy makers force the door open without your knowledge or consent?


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