None Dare Call It Cloning

Original Article

“British scientists have been given permission to perform therapeutic cloning using human embryos for the first time,” reported the August 11, 2004, BBC News. What a remarkable statement. Not the fact that the UK will permit researchers to create human cloned embryos-that has been on the drawing board for some time. What made this report so startling was that the British government, researchers, and the BBC admit that the scientists will be “cloning human embryos” via “the same technique used to create Dolly the cloned sheep.” (This is known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT.)

Just try and get American cloning advocates and their accomplices in the media to be as candid. On this side of the Atlantic, the C-word is now reserved for “reproductive cloning,” that is SCNT intended to result in the birth of a cloned baby. But the exact same procedure used to create cloned embryos for use in research, is never called cloning anymore. Nor, do advocates usually admit the biological fact that the “product” of human SCNT is a cloned human embryo. Instead, in an act of utter cynicism, pro-cloners employ obfuscating words, redefined terms, and misleading slogans designed to sow confusion in the minds of the American people.

Here are just two recent examples:

Ron Reagan’s speech at the Democrat Convention: Ron Reagan’s speech, which he claimed to be about embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), actually touted therapeutic cloning, that is, the creation of cloned embryos for use in research and treatments. Not only did Reagan incorrectly describe embryonic stem cell research, but also, he intentionally misleads his audience when he said, “No fetuses are created, none destroyed” during the SCNT procedure.

Well, of course, cloning doesn’t create fetuses. What cloning does do is create new human embryos through asexual means. Once in existence, these embryos develop in the same manner as natural embryos.

Whether created through fertilization or cloning, the human embryonic stage of development lasts from the moment the embryo comes into being as a one-celled organism, through the eighth week. Thus, for cloning to create a fetus, the unborn child would have to come into existence already eight weeks along in development; clearly a preposterous notion. Thus, Reagan’s clearly intended to misinform his audience toward the end of convincing them to support federal funding for human cloning research.

California’s Proposition 71: The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, which will appear on the November California ballot, claims to create a state constitutional right to conduct “stem cell research.” In order to hide its radical nature, the initiative never once uses the word embryo, referring to them merely as “surplus products of in vitro fertilization treatments.” Nor does the initiative mention embryonic stem cells. They are instead called “pluripotent stem cells.”

As to cloning, it mentions research on pluripotent stem cells that “may be derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer,” thereby hiding from voters both that the stem cells would be taken from cloned embryos and that these nascent human lives would be destroyed in the process. The initiative does mention cloning, but true to form, only in connection with reproduction, thereby creating a false dichotomy between so-called reproductive cloning and SCNT, when the procedure is identical regardless of the use to which the cloned embryo is put.

The UK is moving full speed ahead into cloning research, a truly deplorable turn of events. But at least in the UK, the cloning lobby admits what it is doing. That is more than we can say about most cloning advocates in this country who are working overtime to prevent the American people from finding out what’s really up.

Award winning author Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His book Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World will be published in October.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.