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What Would You Do to Have a Baby?

Send in the Clones
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Bouncing Baby Clone continued...

Even more compelling than the medical risks are the ethical concerns, Patricia A. Baird, MD, tells WebMD.

"Human reproductive cloning is unethical and unsafe and should be prohibited," says Baird, a University Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

As polls indicate that 90% of society opposes human cloning, a democratic government cannot ethically support it, she testified before the California legislature.

Who would decide who gets cloned? In the absence of public funding, those who can afford it will be first in line.

Earlier Clonaid publicity suggested that the parents planning to clone their dead daughter were investing $1 million in the company and would pay $500,000 for the cloning attempt, after which they might profit from clonings of other babies, at prices "as low as $200,000."

Now the web site suggests that "the next clients on the list will be chosen according to their bid (for financial priority reasons) so that the money collected will help improve the technique from which everyone will benefit in the end."

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.

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