April 2, 2008

Having a Cow Over Cloning

Reportedly, researchers at Newcastle University (Britain) have successfully created a clone using the genetic material of a human and inserting it into the ennucleated bovine egg. You heard it right, human DNA was inserted into the egg of a cow, resulting in what is known as a cybrid, a human-animal embryo. The lack of human eggs for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is apparently responsible for pursuing the creation of these cybrids. In the name of scientific progress, ethical lines have already been breached in the pursuit of human eggs from young, financially vulnerable women. And now, another ethical line is being entirely ignored, and we're suppose to be comforted by the fact that these tiny human-cows are destroyed after 14 or so days, not allowed to be implanted in a uterus (human? cow?) and permitted to grow.

I wonder what their beef is with the implantation of these cybrids. Do they find something wrong, something repugnant with the idea of human-cow species? Do they think that humanity is somehow defiled by creating something that cannot live as a human nor should graze in a pasture? These researchers and others who forbid the implantation of these human-animal embryos know there is something terribly wrong with this, otherwise implantation would be of no serious consequence. But what they don't appreciate is that this is not a slippery slope concern. The issue here is not about what could possibly be created in the womb, it's about what has already been created in a dish.

The age of a person is discerned by the length of their existence, with certain attributes present at certain places in development. Human persons all begin and develop the same way, unless abnormalities interrupt these natural developments. Destroying an embryo at day 14 does not prevent a human from entering into the world, it ends the life a tiny person who already exists. I am not comforted by the creation and "early" destruction of these human-cow embryos, I'm terribly alarmed that the dignity of humans has been seriously violated by people who are repulsed by the same organism at a later stage of development.

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