Troubled Iowa Dreams

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Richard Doerflinger, the deputy director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has an article on National Review about the recent decision by Iowa lawmakers to overturn a previous cloning ban. The language they adopted resembles what was done in Missouri with Amendment 2 – banning the implantation or attempted implantation of a cloned human embryo into a woman’s uterus, or a substitute uterus, for the purpose of birth.

Doerflinger makes some pretty good points. Like the use of sick people to advance this research:

For as the bill went from senate to house, Governor Chet Culver declared that “it’s really up to the 100 state representatives now to decide if they want to give hope and opportunity to tens of thousands of people.”

Who are these tens of thousands of people? A hint of an answer is that Culver said this at a press conference surrounded by parents of children with juvenile diabetes, who spoke about a “cure” for their children’s illness.

It is worth asking: Have these parents ever read anything about cloning and juvenile diabetes — or are they being misled and used? Even the most vigorous proponents of human cloning for research purposes, such as Ian Wilmut (head of the team that created Dolly), admit that stem cells from cloned embryos will not treat juvenile diabetes. The reason is simple: Any embryo cloned from a child with juvenile diabetes (and any stem cells from that embryo) would be an exact genetic match to the child, and thus have exactly the same genetic profile that provoked the illness in the first place.

and the complete ignorance of our politicians:

Are treatments for other conditions on the horizon from cloned human embryos? No. Attempts to achieve the first essential step in so-called “therapeutic cloning” — simply making a human embryo by this technique and obtain usable stem cells — have all been failures. In the most recent case, involving the team of Hwang Woo-suk in South Korea, the researchers compounded their failure with fraudulent claims of success over the course of two years, and they now face criminal and other charges. As the New York Times noted last January: “The technique for cloning human cells, which seemed to have been achieved since March 2004, now turns out not to exist at all, forcing cloning researchers back to square one.” And square one is where the field has remained since then.

So one can only shake one’s head in amazement at what Culver’s predecessor, Tom Vilsack (now a Democratic presidential candidate), said when he kicked off the campaign against Iowa’s cloning ban in his last “State of the State” speech last year. Vilsack said that when he signed the ban on what he calls “nuclear cell transplants” in 2002, “we never dreamt that new treatments dependent upon such transplants would be developed so quickly. Well, they have been, and as a result we should revisit our ban on nuclear cell transplants. We should remove the restrictions and allow life saving treatments to be administered to Iowans here in Iowa rather than forcing them to leave our state…”

Treatments? Developed quickly? On what planet does the Iowa governor’s mansion actually reside?

Ironically, Americans have indeed been forced by the current political climate to go elsewhere for groundbreaking stem-cell treatments — to Germany, Thailand, Portugal, etc. They have gone to these places for promising new clinical trials using adult stem cells, because so many of our local politicians (including, apparently, two Iowa governors in a row) are fixated on fantasies about cloning.

Cloning for research is just that, fantasy, but more importantly it is yet another symptom of the selfish, pro-death mentality of modern society. As I noted in an earlier post, all it took for people to warm up to the idea of human cloning was the promise of relieving the great burden of disease and suffering. As long as we remain unwilling to accept (and even embrace) human suffering, any atrocity which holds a promise to alleviate such pain will be acceptable, even the destruction of innocent human life.

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