The Future of Human Cloning: Prescient Lessons from Medical Ethics Past
18 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2009
Date Written: April, 20 2009
The public introduction of mammalian cloning in February 1997 with the announcement of Dolly the Sheep’s birth naturally raised the question, “Are humans next‘” This query wrought a furor and sense of panic that dominated the popular and scientific press. This article documents the reaction to the prospect of human cloning, and notes how reminiscent it is of debates that encircled prior advances in reproductive medicine. In particular, the two modalities that revolutionized treatment for infertility -- artificial insemination by donor (AID) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) -- faced intense public skepticism and anxiety when first proposed. Like their successor cloning technology, AID and IVF stirred up dire warnings about the doomed fate of mankind should such unnatural methods of reproduction be embraced. And while the current success and utilization of these reproductive technologies might suggest that early fears were unwarranted, they do not explain why we find ourselves, yet again, fretting over the possibility of creating human life in an even more derived manner than ever before. Though we view ourselves as technologically sophisticated, we become rattled to the core each time science presents us with a new twist on what we consider to be the most basic of human functions, the creation of life. This article attempts to understand the divergence between our desire to advance the science of reproduction and our terror in so doing.
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