Friday, January 05, 2007
Cutting Through the Spin on Cloning
As I mentioned yesterday, Father Tad presented our school with why cloning is not something Catholics should be in favor of. In reality, this whole presentation seemed to be to me a rehashing of his presentation stem cell research, but with a new angle that involved cloning. In addition to that, his audience of about 1500+ only had maybe 200-300 awake the entire time. Everyone else was out like a light, including a number of faculty.
So here is what we got when it came to the presentation:
-We start with Embryonic Stem Cell research by showing that the stem cells are retrieved from a five day old embryo. This is a background piece for those who might not remember or never knew that to begin with.
-We move on to cloning and his different myths. Before going into this, we need to know what cloning is. Imagine plucking a hair from your head and at the tip is where the DNA is. One takes the DNA cells and places it into an empty egg cell. After some stimulation to the fertilized egg, a human being is created. This human happens to be you. This is what is known as Reproductive Cloning. The problem with this is that there are inherent risks to cloning a straight human being. As Father Tad put it, it is like trying to flip thousands of genetic switches at once. The other type of cloning which is out there is Therapeutic Cloning. In this particular aspect, we would clone organs and tissue to help people. Problem, as Father Tad shows, is that you till create a life with the embryo and are killing it in order to harvest the human being.
-The other myth he discussed was Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which is just another name for cloning but sounds different so as not to freak out voters. The key element to all of this is that it does involved a lot of egg harvesting, which can negatively affect 35% of women who do it with pelvis pain, infertility, stroke, and death.
-Father Tad also discussed fetal farming, and how this could be done with cloning so that people would have extra organs. The plan to get these organs would be to have the baby go to 9 months and then abort it before birth, thus getting the organs.
After listening for an hour to his speech, I got to admit I was getting sleepy. Even typing this out is getting me sleepy again. However, for me, my concerns to embryonic stem cell research and cloning comes from a different angle. I will be the first to admit that stem cell research can have a lot of good for people. It can most likely help cure people of diseases. The problem is a scientist WILL eventually come along and decide to go one or two steps further in the name of science.
The doctor might say, "Why don't we offer parents the ability to create the perfect child." See the movie Gattaca for that scenario. Or, what if Kim Jong Il or Al queda, or someone even worse decides to go with cloning and clones their leader? See The Boys from Brazil on that one. The biggest concern though is what happens if we combine both of these where doctors create the perfect people and one of them develops the cognitive reasoning that says, "Wait a minute! We are better than flawed humans. Our strength, our intelligence, everything which makes us unique makes us the master race." Sound familiar? If so, then it would seem science would let Hitler's dream of the Aryan race come to life.
I know alot of what I am saying sounds like science fiction, but what other crazy notions have sounded like science fiction? Flight, airplanes, going to the moon, computer that fit on a desk, small hand held communication devices, organ transplants.
My point here is that while there are new medical fields being opened to us to help cure diseases, perhaps we should spend more time and resources isolating the EXACT causes of the diseases we are battling and then work on neutralizing it. It sounds pretty simple to me.
Posted by BDM at 11:39 AM