Second Thoughts about Cloning Humans

By Harris, Bob | The Humanist, May-June 1997 | Go to article overview

Second Thoughts about Cloning Humans


Harris, Bob, The Humanist


Scientists announced last February that they had cloned the first large adult mammal. Despite President Clinton's immediate response that no federal funds will be used for research on human cloning (because, in his words, "human life is unique, born of a miracle," a "profound gift," and all that), human cloning is surely inevitable. This means we're forced to face some new and serious questions.

For example, since cloning will be expensive initially, won't only rich people be cloned? Will Donald Trump be cloned in the womb by hundreds of women who need the money? Is it possible that a century from now there will be entire cities of Perots and Forbeses?

If not, won't clones still be considered status symbols, displayed at cocktail parties and on the cover of InStyle magazine? Or will the replication of the rich simply dilute their wealth?

Will a black market arise, from which the poor can get back-alley clones?

Will actually being a clone thereafter carry a certain elan? Or will it be more declasse, like owning a print of an oil painting instead of the original?

Once cloning can begin in utero, how will we tell clones from originals? Dental records? Tattoos? Certificates of authenticity that are carried along with drivers' licenses?

Will clones be subconsciously considered disposable? Will killing a clone carry less of a stigma than murdering the original?

How long until some rich individual creates lobotomized "spares" to replace his or her own aging human body parts? Will wealthy parents hire surrogates and have their children in batches of four or five so there are "extras" if one gets hit by a car?

What social security numbers do clones get? Do we just add a letter to the donor's number, starting with A for the first clone, B for the second, and so on?

Since most replicants will be born into wealth, will we see outbreaks of envious blue-collar clone-bashing? Will clones, like other oppressed groups, develop a system of nonverbal behaviors--such as wearing lapel pins shaped like rubber stamps--to signify their status? Will clones develop a national support network (ACNE: Adult Children of Nobody, Exactly)?

In school, will clones be allowed to copy on exams?

Since only a small percentage of cloned zygotes survive the process, how long until pro-lifers begin bombing chemistry labs? …

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