Back on August 9, 2005 I sent an e-blog regarding the proposed and so-called “Human Cloning Ban Act of 2005” of the U.S. Senate. I pointed out how the proposed law did anything but ban cloning. Through an obfuscation and redefinition of basic biological and scientific terms it will do the exact opposite of its title: it will make human cloning legal throughout the United States. The only thing it will ban is a particular use of clones. While researchers are able to kill them for their stem cells, they are not allowed to insert them into a woman’s womb and allow them to be born nine months later. There’s nothing more outrageous than requiring the death of a tiny human being, all the while making it punishable by law to allow it to live! The moral monstrosity of this state-sanctioned creation and murder of human beings is outdone only by the deception through which it is being presented to the American people.
Well, the U.S. Congress is not alone in this move. The state of Missouri has proposed a bill of its own. It is called the “Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.” (I guess they figured a nearly identical title worked for CA, so they might as well try it too) It also proposes to ban cloning, stating that “no person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.” But like the federal legislation, it does anything but prevent cloning. The obfuscation and deception involved in this bill far surpasses that of the federal proposal. I will quote several portions of the proposed legislation, followed by my comments in blue which detail the nature of the obfuscation.
Statement 1—“No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research.”
I wonder why it is that they use “blastocyst” rather than “embryo”? Is it because people will know what an embryo is, but not a blastocyst?
Furthermore, why is it that an embryo cannot be produced by fertilization for the purpose of stem-cell research, but an embryo can be produced by cloning for stem-cell research? The product is the same. The means by which the product was created does not change what it is, and does not change the moral issues surrounding embryo research.
Statement 2—“Human blastocysts and eggs obtained for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures must have been donated with voluntary and informed consent….”
To “donate” a blastocyst requires that it be produced by natural fertilization. So it’s alright to kill an embryo produced by fertilization so long as it was not created solely for that purpose, and it was not the research scientists who created it? This is a rather meaningless moral distinction.
In the definitions section we find the following obfuscation of terms:
Definition 1—“ ‘Blastocyst’ means a small mass of cells that results from cell division, caused either by fertilization or somatic cell nuclear transfer, that has not been implanted in a uterus.”
That may be the way they are using it in this section, but a blastocyst is what it is whether it is implanted into a uterus or not.
Definition 2—“ ‘Clone or attempt to clone a human being’ means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.”
The wording here is a little confusing. What they are trying to communicate is that cloning refers to implanting into the uterus anything other than an embryo (the “product”) that was produced through natural fertilization (wherein an egg is penetrated by a sperm, producing a new human organism), and which may result in the birth of a human being. Since the real process of cloning does not involve male sperm, and since the researchers have no intent of allowing the clone to be implanted into a womb and gestated to full-term (because they want to kill it for its parts), according to this definition of cloning they don’t have to call it cloning. How convenient that they define cloning in such a way that it has nothing to do with cloning, ban the pseudo-form of cloning, and then go on about their cloning business all the while saying they are not cloning! Can you imagine if we defined stealing like that?: Stealing is when I take something from your house that belongs to you. Since I am taking something from your car that belongs to you I am not stealing. Ridiculous!
The fact of the matter is that their definition of cloning is an out-and-out lie, and they know it. Cloning does not refer to where we put the so-called “product of fertilization,” or any other product for that matter. Cloning refers to the process of creating a new human being who is genetically identical to another human being. That new human being is called a clone. A clone is a clone regardless of where it is, or what we do with it. Where a (cloned) human being is does not change what it is.
The way this paragraph is worded it leaves room for researchers to implant a cloned embryo into a uterus and gestate it for up to 9 months, so long as it is not allowed to be born (just like in New Jersey). How? Because it only states that a “product of fertilization” cannot be implanted into a uterus and be birthed. “Anything other” than a “product of fertilization” does not apply. A clone is not the product of fertilization, and thus it could be implanted into a womb and gestated to near birth, only to be killed prior to that event.
One final thing to point out in this paragraph was the statement that implanting the “product of fertilization…could result in the creation of a human fetus,” as though the fetus is something that is created at a later stage in the pregnancy. “Fetus” is a term biologists and embryologists assign to a human being in utero who is between the age of 8 weeks and birth. It describes a particular stage of development of a human being, in the same manner as “newborn, infant, toddler, adolescent, teenager,” and “adult” describe stages of development in ex utero human beings. In the same way we would not say of a newborn that he/she could result in the “creation of an adult,” neither should we say an implanted embryo could result in the creation of a human fetus. Nothing new is being created. The tiny human being is simply maturing according to its kind.
Definition 5—“ ‘Human embryonic stem cell research,’ also referred to as ‘early stem cell research,’ means any scientific or medical research involving human stem cells derived from in vitro fertilization blastocysts or from somatic cell nuclear transfer.”
“Early stem cell research” is a term I have just begun to hear in this debate. The reason it is becoming the euphemism of choice is because it lacks the word “human” and “embryo,” both of which humanize the object of medical experimentation, and both of which stir up people’s moral sensibilities. That is why they want to avoid them.
Proponents of the bill have also created a website fact-sheet to supposedly set the record straight regarding what the initiative does and does not do. This also contains several bits of intentional misinformation.
“FACT #3: The Initiative clearly and strictly bans human cloning.
Opponents of stem cell research claim that making stem cells in a lab dish is the same thing as ‘human cloning.’ Scientists and most other people disagree with that view and understand that ‘human cloning’ means creating a duplicate human being – not making stem cells in a lab dish.”
First, embryonic stem cell researchers do not make stem cells; embryos make stem cells. The researchers simply harvest them, which requires that they kill the embryo.
Secondly, the location of the embryos has nothing to do with human cloning. Human cloning is a process of creating a genetic copy of another human. Whether the “product” of the cloning process is in a lab dish or in a womb, it is still a human, and the means by which it was created was that of cloning.
Thirdly, to say “scientists and most other people” think making stem cells in a lab dish is not cloning means nothing. For one, by not qualifying “scientists” they give the false impression that all scientists agree with this statement. Not true. For another, what “most other people” believe is irrelevant, even if it were true that most people believe what they say they believe. It is the science of biology and embryology, not the general populace, that determines whether or not making stem cells (by making an embryo) asexually is the same as human cloning.
“FACT #4: Early stem cell research does not involve abortion.
Early stem cell research does not involve or harm an embryo or fetus in a pregnant woman’s uterus – and it does not involve abortion. And, nothing in the Initiative changes or conflicts with Missouri’s abortion laws. The two basic sources of ES cells are: (1) leftover fertility clinic embryos that will not be implanted in a woman’s uterus and would otherwise be discarded and destroyed; and (2) the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) process, which uses stem cells made in a lab dish with a patient’s own cells and an unfertilized, donated human egg.”
True, it does not involve or harm an embryo or fetus in a “uterus,” but it does involve and harm an embryo. Why is its location morally relevant? How does where it is change what it is? Furthermore, how can we use its location to redefine the meaning of the process that brought it into existence? Saying an embryo created by SCNT that is implanted in a womb is a human being, while an embryo created by SCNT that is in a lab dish is not is like saying an embryo created by fertilization that is implanted in the womb is a human being, while an embryo created by fertilization that is in a lab dish is not. Oh wait…they said that as well!
Saying that SCNT uses “stem cells made in a lab dish with a patient’s own cells and an unfertilized…egg” is false. The process of SCNT does not involve stem cells. It only involves a somatic cell and an enucleated egg. The embryo that is produced through SCNT produces stem cells, but stem cells are not used for the process.
I’m so glad the proponents of this constitutional amendment cleared up the misinformation out there! Hardly! The have added to it.