New Year May Welcome a Cloned Baby
Reports Say One May Be On The Way -- Like It Or Not
Nov. 26, 2002 -- We may soon be able to drop the fiction aspect from the science fiction surrounding human cloning. A fertility specialist in Rome announced today he has cloned a healthy human embryo that will be born in January, according to published reports.
The controversial doctor, Severino Antinori, would not say where the birth would take place or disclose any other information. Last year, Antinori announced that his team had unlimited funding for cloning research and up to 700 couples willing to be cloned.
Although the issue of whether we can clone a human may now be put to rest, the issue still remains of whether we should clone a human.
Is it necessary, is it ethical, and what are the risks?
Immortality -- or Immorality?
"Adoption is always an option, but many couples want a child with their own genes, even if that means cloning," Panayotis Zavos, EdS, PhD, associate director of the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine, told WebMD in a previous interview.
Still others make no bones about their own bid for immortality, wanting to re-create themselves in miniature.
"Having babies is fun, and having clones would be even more fun," Richard G. Seed, PhD, told WebMD. "Having a little Richard Seed in the house would be great!"
American politicians have introduced legislation to prohibit it, fearing that the FDA might be powerless to exercise its jurisdiction over this emotionally charged issue. Officials have even considered a bill imposing a minimum $1 million civil fine for any efforts at human cloning. President Bush has made it clear he would sign any bill outlawing cloning in the U.S.
"In the last 20 to 30 years, the Supreme Court established reproductive rights that the government can't interfere with," said Seed, a physicist with expertise in infertility treatment. "You would have to go through difficult contortions of logic to make abortion legal, but cloning illegal."
"We're not as revolutionary as the so-called ethicists call us," said Zavos, president of his own company, which markets infertility technology worldwide. "Like any novel pioneering development, people are afraid of it, but they're going to have to learn to live with it."
To Clone or Not to Clone?
As in the case of the atom bomb, say cloning critics, just because we have the technology doesn't mean we should use it. With human cloning, experts raise serious practical as well as ethical issues that call the technology itself into question.
"Cloning mammals has been thus far a dismal record of failures -- dead, dying, and deformed clones, and threats to the health and life of the females bearing cloned fetuses," Thomas H. Murray, PhD, president of the Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y., told WebMD.
"Dolly the cloned sheep is grossly obese, and probably not normal," said Rudolf Jaenisch, MD. "Molly the cloned cow dropped dead in the field one day for unknown reasons."