Three important values, differently weighted by the contending sides, were (and are) at issue in the debates about cloning and embryonic stem cells: scientific and medical progress, the sanctity of human life, and human dignity. We seek to cure disease and relieve suffering through vigorous research, conducted within acceptable moral boundaries. We seek to protect vulnerable human life against destruction and exploitation. We seek to defend human procreation against degrading reproductive practices–such as cloning or embryo fusing–that would deny children their due descent from one father and one mother and their right not to be “manufactured.”
Embryonic stem cell research pits the first value against the second. Many upholders of the sanctity of human life regard embryo destruction as unethical even if medical good may come of it; many partisans of medical research, denying to nascent human life the same respect they give to life after birth, regard cures for disease as morally imperative even if moral harm may come of it. But the deepest challenge posed by cloning has to do not with saving life or avoiding death, but with human dignity, and the cloning issue is therefore only accidentally bound up with the battle about stem cell research. Yet both parties to the stem cell debate happily turned the cloning controversy into the life controversy.
Read more as Dr. Kass analyzes previous failed attempts to ban cloning in the US, how recent scientific breakthroughs have both made cloning irrelevant to science and a ban on cloning more urgent than ever, and offers a three pronged approach to finally ban human cloning in our country.