December 30, 2002

DON’T BAN CLONING:

Not only is the U.S. position – complete prohibition – extreme, but even the more conservative, limited ban is insupportable. . . .

But legal prohibition – national or international – is a poor answer. Even if a new law or treaty were able to eliminate reproductive cloning from most of the world, practitioners would likely spring up in places with minimal regulation, next door to the quack cancer and fountain of youth clinics. The actions of rogue cloners in these wholly unregulated milieus could be disastrous.

The potential problems of cloning are, arguably, best left to the forces of the marketplace and the existing protections of national legal systems. If, as experts expect, reproductive cloning is largely unsuccessful, its practitioners will find themselves without clients. If they fail to deliver on their contractual obligations or cause death or injury to an infant, they may be subject to various civil and criminal legal strictures, including fraud, breach of contract, criminal negligence, and manslaughter. They might even be subject, ultimately, to “wrongful life” suits brought by the clone or its agents.

If bureaucrats pursue a legal prohibition , it is likely that they, the research community and society at large will be confounded by the law of unintended consequences.

Yes. I keep waiting for some clear explanation of why cloning is so awful that it must be banned, but nothing I’ve heard really gets much past the “it gives me the willies” argument. Which isn’t an argument at all.

UPDATE: Bigwig is all over the cloning issue. Start at this link and scroll up.