Wesley Smith: The Time Has Come to Outlaw Human Cloning

Prominent Bioethicist Wesley J Smith says The Time Has Come to Outlaw Human Cloning

Scientists recently announced that they had successfully cloned human embryos for the first time, using the same process that produced Dolly the sheep.

This news constitutes an ethical earthquake. Cloning is the essential technology in the development of a plethora of other unprecedented and morally dubious technologies-the genetic engineering of embryos, the creation of human/animal chimeras, the gestation of cloned fetuses in artificial wombs as a means of obtaining patient-compatible organs, and eventually, the birth of cloned babies.

He is absolutely correct that it is time to ban human cloning. I don’t know why he thought we needed to wait until some lab actually cloned human embryos in order to outlaw it, perhaps he thought we needed someone to actually do it in order for people to be outraged and allow Congress to ride to the rescue. But that’s hugely cynical and hypocritical, we should obviously have prohibited it before human beings are treated like raw material for lab workers to experiment on, and besides, hopefully he noticed that there was very little public outrage about this news, which would have been shocking ten years ago, but now people seem to be bored, since it seems like old news and people assume we banned it ten years ago. But we haven’t!

Smith is also wrong about what needs to be banned. He thinks we should ban only SCNT, the way Dolly was created, by transferring a nucleus from an adult’s body cell into a denucleated egg, but that would still leave other things legal that he calls “dubious” but are certainly unethical, like creating genetically engineered children and attempting same-sex reproduction using artificial gametes. There’d be no nuclear transfer if the egg and sperm themselves were genetically engineered, but it is just as unethical and would require just as many human embryos being destroyed as SCNT does.

But it is good to see he’s calling again for a ban on human cloning, so people might be reminded that it still hasen’t been done yet.

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