Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hello, Dolly

Last night, the Washington State House approved House Bill 1268 to provide guidelines for embryonic stem cell research. Despite explicit language, the bill is supposed to strictly prohibit human cloning, that is exactly what this bill allows.

The bill’s authors have been clever with their definitions. While they forbade human cloning in one breath, they permitted it with the next. The bill’s definition of cloning is made up to best suit their needs:

"Cloning of a human being" means asexual reproduction by implanting or attempting to implant the product of nuclear transplantation [e.g., an embryo] into a uterus or substitute for a uterus with the purpose of producing a human being.

But wait! Cloning doesn’t actually begin when you implant an embryo in a womb. It occurs before that, through a process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT).

Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at Seattle’s think tank Discovery Institute has done some leading studies on this issue. Smith does a good job defining complicated scientific procedures in layman’s terms. He describes SCNT as such:

In the case of asexually creating a human, the biotechnologist removes the nucleus from a mature human egg (an oocyte). The nucleus of a body cell from the DNA donor is removed, and put into the place formerly occupied by the egg's nucleus. The genetically modified egg now has 46 chromosomes, the full human compliment. Meanwhile, the ability of the mature egg to transform and begin embryonic development remains fully potent.

A little shot of electricity comes next, and if all goes well, a new human cloned embryo comes into being and begins to develop in the same way as a sexually created embryo. At that point — and this is important to understand — there is no more cloning to be done since a new human organism now exists.

Let’s be clear about this: SCNT is cloning. Anything else is what Smith would call “junk biology.” Yet the authors of this bill – as well as others who advocate cloning – will usually retort that only religious conservatives call this immoral. Those people apparently are only limited to Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and a Sunday school worldview. These are the same tactics used by Darwinists to slam those who argue (quite well) for intelligent design.

The promoters of this type of science contend this issue by using scientific terms like blastocyst (meaning, a week old embryo) to confuse the circumstances. They will also assert that those who are in moral opposition to human cloning must be against saving lives by advancing this research. Don’t be fooled by that red herring.

The real issue is not whether or not we should try to save more lives by curing more diseases. The issue is how far do we go to do it? The scientific elitism in this is overwhelming. I find it patronizing to be told that my views only derive from right-wing conservatism as June Walker and Jaquie Bayley of Hadassah, have done in today’s Seattle P-I, located

Opponents, including conservative lawmakers and religious leaders, cited sanctity-of-life issues and characterized the process, called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, as reproductive human cloning.

However, it appears that minute understanding and bad logic is their basis for justifying their position. Their definition of SCNT is rather empty.

SCNT is about saving lives and the betterment of humanity, plain and simple. We are doing a great injustice to humanity and the future if we allow ourselves to be frightened by the unknown and political and religious agendas. This appeal is really based on pathetic appeal, not a logical conclusion. Again, opponents to this type of research

In last night’s House floor debate we heard another common fallacy. Science has classified cloning into two categories: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

Democrats argued that while therapeutic cloning would take place under embryonic stem cell research, it still wouldn’t be cloning (despite the obvious in its name). Therapeutic cloning is using that human embryo for purposes of research. Keep in mind that SCNT has already taken place. If a human organism is implanted in a womb and brought to birth, then it is reproductive cloning. But both of these are not different types of cloning, they are different uses for cloning. Again, let’s be clear: this is still cloning.

Last night, Democrats like Rep. Shay Schual-Berke (D – Normandy Park) and Rep. Ed Murray (D – Seattle) argued different saying that therapeutic cloning is different from reproductive cloning and is in fact not cloning at all. Either the Democrats are quite ignorant and they shouldn’t be voting on such a magnanimous issue, or they are directly using deceitful tactics. Either way they have done a large disservice to the people of this state in advancement of political wills.

When we legislate human life we are playing a dangerous chord. We should look for ways to advance our abilities to cure difficult diseases. We have already made significant progress through adult stem cell research, and we could do more with it. Now that we have gave legal endorsement for the creation and subsequent destruction of human life, what is next?

This is a venture that extends beyond the authority of man to tinker with. Let’s pray the Senate and governor have better sense.