News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Cloning: We must act now to stop the mad scientists

DEERFIELD, Ill. (BP)–We are in a national state of emergency. While Congress and the president are managing the war in Afghanistan and while Tom Ridge is working to protect our national security, renegade scientists continue to clone human beings.

Three groups have now said they have cloned human beings. The latest report came from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) on Nov. 25. ACT admits in an exclusive article in the science magazine, Scientific American, to having cloned human embryos. As they themselves put it, “After months of trying, on October 13, 2001, we came into our laboratory at Advanced Cell Technology to see what we’d been striving for … the first human embryos produced using the technique of nuclear transplantation, otherwise known as cloning.”

What they describe as “the dawn of a new age of medicine” may well be “a new dark age of medicine” since every embryo they made died in the petri dish. Their experiment was not only a dismal failure, but nascent human beings died in the process of making ACT famous for another 15 minutes.

What have we learned about cloning in other mammals? Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told a panel at the National Academy of Sciences this year that, “Nearly 98 percent of attempts to clone mammals have failed and those that do survive often appear abnormal and grossly enlarged.” Arthur Caplan, the University of Pennsylvania ethicist, observed that “if you look at the carnage associated with animal cloning, there is probably a ratio of about 290 dead embryos for every one that goes anywhere.” Despite the clear evidence that cloning human beings is bad science, ACT continues unchecked.

Then there is Clonaid. Clonaid is the research division of a UFO cult known as the Raelians. The Raelians believe humans were cloned by extraterrestrial beings and dropped off on earth by UFOs. The Raelians had contracted with an attorney in Nitro, W.Va., to clone a child lost to illness. The attorney had built a lab and efforts were about to begin when the state shut it down. The day ACT announced its dismal failure, Clonaid admitted they have been cloning human embryos for months. Clonaid claims to have 200 women lined up who would be surrogate mothers for cloned children.

Finally, there are maverick scientists Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos. Antinori is the Italian fertility specialist who has helped several women 65 years of age and older to achieve pregnancy through assisted reproductive technologies. Zavos is a former animal fertility specialist at the University of Kentucky where they study racehorse breeding. Zavos wants to be the first to bring a human clone to term so, by his own admission, he can be the Christopher Columbus of human cloning. After all, he says, “Someone has to get there first. Why shouldn’t it be me?” So, while our nation is properly attending to the war, these Drs. Frankenstein are working to create human replicants.

The only way to stop the madness is to enact an immediate and comprehensive ban on human cloning. The U.S. House of Representatives passed such a ban on July 31 by a sizeable majority vote of 265-162. On Monday, Nov. 26, Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kansas, called for the Senate to pass a similar ban before Congress breaks for the holiday recess. Senate assistant majority leader, Harry Reid, D.-Nev., said Nov. 27 that the Senate did not have time to consider a ban on cloning.

When Sen. Brownback called for a six-month moratorium on human cloning to give everyone a chance to catch their breath, Sen. Reid replied that a moratorium of “six months or two months or two days would impede science.” Yes, that’s exactly what a moratorium would do and that’s exactly why we need one.

We need to stop the mad scientists before they kill more human clones or before a deformed cloned baby is born and is left on our national doorstep. If we don’t pass an immediate ban, I would like to recommend that Sen. Reid be given custody of the first human live-born clone and be required to care for and pay her healthcare bills for her short, agonizing life.

Concerned citizens should call their senators immediately to urge them to pass an immediate and comprehensive ban on human cloning, both so-called “therapeutic” and “reproductive” cloning. Contact Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle at (202) 224-5556, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott at (202) 224-3135. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators by name or tell the operator what state you are from.
C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D., is consultant on biomedical and life issues for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, senior fellow of the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity and associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at the Chicago-area Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

    About the Author

  • C. Ben Mitchell

    C. Ben Mitchell is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., as well as research fellow with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    Read All by C. Ben Mitchell ›