Britain not right to experiment with cloning humans

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Cloning is not cool. Too bad the British government doesn’t know it.

Monday the House of Lords approved a change to government regulations that makes Britain the first country to legalize the creation of cloned human embryos, according to an Associated Press story. The cloned embryos would have to be destroyed after 14 days.

First, what are the anti-abortion rights people to do? Now they’ll have another place to picket if they can decide whether destroying a clone of an embryo counts as killing a baby. That should take some of the air of celebration out of their victory in President Bush’s blocking of funds to international family-planning groups that offer abortion options.

An embryo is basically a ball of stem cells, which are master cells found in early-stage embryos that can turn into most cell types in the body. At about 14 days, the stem cells start to create a nervous system, spine and other features. So maybe the anti-abortion crowd will be OK with this one.

But the fact is, no one should be OK with it. Cloning is not ethically or morally right. If human life is precious and unique, it cannot be acceptable to recreate a single part of a human.

Some lords argued that ethical worries were being pushed aside in the rush to be at the forefront of medical research, according to the story. These men must have been the only ones with any sense of right from wrong in their special house. Issues such as cloning cannot be rushed just because someone wants to be the first to say, “I did it.” Ethics have to come first.

According to the article, it was decided that ethical, moral and scientific issues about the issue would be debated by a committee later – after the change was passed.

What a great idea. Let’s do something, then decide, oh, a month or a year later whether we made the right choice. After the fact is always the best way to decide important things that could change the world seems to be the message here. The passage of this new regulation is the start down a road that shouldn’t even exist. Sure, the embryo is supposed to be destroyed after 14 days, but is there going to be a watchdog over every scientist’s shoulders?

Just recently Australian scientists announced that they accidentally created a virus that kills mice by crippling their immune systems, according to a New York Times article. The thing is, this discovery was made in 1998 and 1999, but it is just now being announced. No one can say for sure that 20 years from now we won’t be hearing from a scientist, “Oh, by the way, I cloned a human 10 years ago.” But allowing embryos to be cloned sets the stage for this scenario.

The possibility is present for a fully cloned human, and there shouldn’t be. With the reality of a human clone looming even closer, people need to think harder about all the implications, not just one aspect of the issue.

The scientists hope to eventually be able to do transplants with the cloned cells that could prevent or cure many illnesses, according to the article. I know this has the potential to save thousands of lives, but there is no excuse or reason good enough to justify cloning even an embryo.

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