Monday, March 09, 2009

Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research

Today, President Obama over-turned President Bush's policy on the federal funding of stem cell research. You can read about it here. Now, I have no trouble mounting an ethical argument against the destruction of embryos to get stem cells. Once you believe that human life begins at conception, then the argument is easy to make. We have been irresponsible in our quest for reproduction, resulting in 'extra' embryos. Frankly, science has far outstripped our ethics in this category.

What strikes me as odd is how vehemently President Obama comes down against human cloning. In his speech he says, "And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society." I find this bizarre. I am personally unable to come up with why it is unethical to clone human beings if it is perfectly fine to destroy embryos to obtain stem cells.

Indeed, the only reason I find cloning repugnant is because it is creepy. It has nothing to do with ethics at all. The only reason I cannot condone cloning ethically is because the technology is so primitive, perhaps, that attempting this might lead to the horrible disfiguration of cloned infants or something of that nature. But cloning itself is a naturally occuring event. Identical twins share the same DNA.

This sort of logical inconsistentcy boggles my mind. I need help in understanding why the "majority" of Americans think it is morally permissible to destroy embryos, but it is ethically repugnant to clone humans. I believe it means that Americans are not being rational, but rather, we are simply guided by pragmatics and gut feelings.