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What Would You Do to Have a Baby?

Send in the Clones

Bouncing Baby Clone continued...

Zavos admits he is screening prospective parents of clones for psychological as well as medical factors, but will not divulge the details.

"They should be able to take the heat and stay in the kitchen," he says. "But we don't want to make all these decisions ourselves. We want governmental, social, and religious leaders to be active participants in human cloning, as long as they don't ban it."

"Cloning raises deep issues about the meaning of parenthood and the flourishing of children," Murray says. The presidential bioethics committee, of which Murray is a member, also cites "effects on the moral, religious, and cultural values of society."

Psychological damage to clones could include losing their sense of identity or uniqueness, worry about premature death or ill health, and loss of social and family supports and relationships. Would the DNA donor be the clone's twin, or parent?

Baird recommends that individual reproductive rights be weighed against societal values. Cloning affects not only the parent, but the child, the society, and future generations.

As mankind has not yet dealt successfully with hunger, poverty, pollution, or warfare, "we are unlikely to have the wisdom to direct our own evolution," she says.

Gathering Steam?

Despite legislation and ethical bans against cloning, the urge to reproduce may be too strong to be suppressed by common sense, moral obligations, or law.

In March, Zavos and Italian fertility specialist Severino Antinori announced that their team had unlimited funding and up to 700 couples willing to be cloned. After a massive outcry from religious organizations, the medical profession, and governmental agencies, human cloning efforts may be going undercover.

Recently, the FDA said it had inspected a Clonaid lab in Syracuse, N.Y., and had a signed agreement with the company that no cloning would occur until the legality of the issue was settled.

But that's not what Brigitte Boisselier, Clonaid's science director, says. She has threatened going to court to challenge the FDA's jurisdiction, and says Clonaid still plans to clone a child within the next year -- here in the U.S., or elsewhere if need be.

Meaning, it may just be a matter of time before the first human clone appears -- for better or for worse -- leaving the rest of humanity to deal with the ramifications.

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