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Illegal Beings: Human Clones

Pillars of Society

libfemme ( 05/29/2005, 00:45:31 )

There are a number of issues so for the sake of simplicity let's pick one. How about; the proposition that reproductive cloning should not take place because of the risk of deformities? First this proposition makes a couple of assumptions. 1) that disability makes life not worth living 2) that no level of risk is acceptable 3) that sexual reproduction carries no risksThe Better Off Dead Theory In the 1960's mothers who took thalidomide during pregnancy gave birth to babies with stunted arms or legs. What happened to them? The children grew up, went to school, fell in love and had their own children. Were their lives different from other children? In some ways, yes. Would it have been better if they had never lived? No. There is a marked difference between the statements: no child should be born with deformities and no child with deformities should be born. Some people confuse this important distinction.Something is good or bad only in comparison to a realistic alternative. No one would choose to live life as a quadriplegic but Christopher Reeve was called courageous. Whatever we on the outside may have thought of his life, to him it was worth living.The disabled don't like it when we treat them as different. Being different means being viewed as less human. People survive and still live useful lives. Useful to them, that is. And they are the only person with a say in the matter.Which is a good thing, because every one of us has a defect. Every one of us is dumber than someone else somewhere, slower than someone else, less proficient, less attractive, less symmetrical. It is only a matter of degree. What is the line between disabled and merely on the low side of normal? How many of us need glasses? How many of us were ridiculed as children? And of course every one of us has a genetic time bomb ticking in our cells. How do I know? Because as a species we have had a 100% mortality rate. 99.9% of All People Who Have Ever Lived Are Now Dead. In some families diabetes gets them, in others it's Addison's disease. Heart disease kills some before cancer does, and for other people it's liver failure. Every individual has inherited genes from ancestors that lived and died in the past. Therefore, we all have inherited defects of one kind or another. We are all mortal.The question is what is the threshold level before life becomes untenable? Current life expectancy is around 80 years. Is that too soon? Is it not worth even being born if you're not going to make it to 81? How about 12 years? In the last century boys born with hemophilia died in their teens. And yet Czarina Alexandra did everything she could to keep her son alive and healthy. Was his life worthless? Not to her, and certainly not to the prince. He may have had only 12 years, but they were his 12 years.How about 3 years old? Children born with Tays Sach never reach school age, but I have never heard of a parent wishing their child had never been born. What they wished is that the child could have lived. What they wish is to never go through the experience of losing a child again. But they wouldn't give back one moment of time they had. Life, even if short is valuable.How Much Risk Is Too Much? If your mother carries the gene for Huntington's disease, you have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the disease. Is it immoral for people with Huntington's to have children?The act of conception is never free of risk. Even people unaware of genetic disease in their family history can conceive a child with a defect. The birth defect rate in western countries is 2%. That translates into millions of children. Is 2% unacceptable? Should we punish the parents until they improve?Garbage in, Garbage out If a defect exists in the genes of an adult about to be cloned, then it will pass to the clone also. Cloning does not create anything new, it passes on the existing. In fact, if cloned children came out defect-free, in other words better than conceived children, how much would we then howl over designer babies?Birth defects exist in clones because birth defects exist all reproduction. They are already there in our genome. As long as we are using the same material to start with the birth defect rates among clones will be the same as the rate among other offspring.The Cloning Process Some say it's not the genes but the cloning process that causes defects. The problem usually attributed to cloning is Overlarge Syndrome. It's caused by an over-expression of a gene called insulin-growth factor. Not surprisingly diabetics are at a greater risk of having any defect in anything called an insulin factor, that's why diabetic women regularly advised not to get pregnant. Yet diabetic women, in complete wanton disregard for society's opinion, risk their lives and that of their child getting pregnant all the time. Now if we believe that Overlarge Syndrome is such a heinous crime that any woman who risks it should be put in prison why are we not up in arms over diabetic mothers? Why do we not threatened diabetics with a $100,000 fine for even attempting sex? It is not the level of awareness that makes the two mothers different. Diabetic woman are warned of the risks in advance as well. But if we do not propose to prosecute both situations, then it cannot be Overlarge Syndrome that the true reason for opposition to cloning. If it were, it would not matter what method was used. No, something else must be the true reason. Reporting Phenomena We are more aware of the health problems of clones than we are of conceived offspring because clones make the News--they are few in number--while, we ignore or are ignorant of imperfections in nature. It's called reporting error. When something that could not be counted is suddenly countable, the reported total goes up. If you're starting from zero, anything is an increase, right? This gives a false perspective--for instance, when we assume for every baby only one egg was expended. Why is that?Because a healthy baby is a public event, large enough to see, so we can infer the egg used in its creation. But we can't see all the eggs that were discarded along the way. They are microscopic and disposed of in private. If, were true, that every egg is precious in nature then every woman should get pregnant on the first try. Yet we know that doesn't happen. For some it takes months or even years before a successful pregnancy comes to term. What happens to all those other eggs then? The average female starts puberty with around 500 eggs. If she is fertile from age 15 to 45, and ovulates once a month, she release around 360 of them. What happens to the other 140? Obviously, they are discards.Now if nature was going to discard some eggs, is it not reasonable to think that it would keep the eggs with the most potential, and discard the weaklings? Yet the method of harvesting eggs for laboratory use involves inducing the ovaries with excess hormones to release at once more eggs than it would of its own accord. Are we harvesting only the pick of the litter or getting a large dose of discards by using this method? In other words, would these same eggs have developed any better if they had been fertilized inside a fallopian tube? Are we but seeing in the petri dish what goes on invisibly all the time inside a woman's body? Some eggs, most eggs even, are factory rejects.The ovaries know this. These are the discards, the ones that get reabsorbed into the woman's body and all trace disappears. But we have pulled them out by our induced ovulation and now here we are foolishly trying to fertilize each one and every one under a microscope.Even when the ovaries do the picking, the results may be no better. Some couples take months or years of trying before they get a successful pregnancy. Does that mean no eggs were released during that time? Of course not. Or that not one sperm among the millions released could be found worthy to fertilize it? Maybe one did. Human Growth Hormone is released whenever egg and sperm fuse. And since waste is expelled in urine, a test for HGH in a woman's urine is the basis of most home pregnancy tests. A few days after ovulation, and intercourse with a fertile male, can result in a positive reading on an HPT. A week later, however, the same woman may start her menses and testing for HGH now shows negative. What happened? The egg was fertilized. HGH started. Then the embryo stopped.It may have failed to attach to the uterine lining. It may have had a chromosomal abnormality that made further division impossible. Or this particular combination of the roll of genetic dice may have lacked some gene essential for life.Every embryo may be sacred to us, but not to Mother Nature. Most embryos fizzle out. She's compensates by increasing production. It's quantity that perpetuates the human race. Any species that relied on only one or two eggs went extinct a long time ago.Therefore it does not take any more eggs or embryos to make a clone then it takes to make a conceived offspring. But in a lab we can count them! That's part of the scientific method, careful data collection. The public counts every embryo that dies in a lab because the information is available. They ignore the embryos that die in nature because they can't see those. It is a reporting error. More incidence are being reported because reporting techniques have improved not because there is an increased in the phenomena.The perception of the rate of molestation increased for the same reason. It is not that catholic priests engaged in a sudden rash of molestation in the latter half of the 20th century, but that societal attitudes changed so that 1) more victims are willing to report the crime, and 2) civil authorities are more willing to prosecute. Reporting methods changed.So too with the expiration of embryos. We see more, we count more. There has been no reporting on the death of embryos in nature, hence we have a perception it does not exist.Cloning is not killing more embryos. Cloning is simply unable to save any more embryos than nature would. This is not a palatable idea, because nature is assumed to be synonymous with God. If nature is killing off embryos, it would mean God was killing embryos. And if God were killing embryos then clearly every embryo is not sacred.If every embryo is not sacred then abortion is not murder. If abortion is not murder then there is no moral authority to oppose terminating a pregnancy. If that can happen then one major fear that has served to limit women's willingness to engage in sexual intercourse disappears. Marriage no longer holds a monopoly on access to sex. Sex is fundamental to Judeo-Christian dogma. Sex is original sin. No sin. No need of a savior. No savior, no Christ. No Christ, no Christianity. No Christianity no church. No church, no moral authority for the existing established religious leaders.And that is the true opposition to cloning. It weakens the underpinning of an established religious authority which has been losing ground for centuries.Thank god!

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