By Kathy Schiffer
Human cloning is finally here—but the scientific community and the popular media are reluctant to tell the story.
According to Wesley J. Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Human Exceptionalism, an international group of scientists have successfully created scores of cloned human embryos. The team of scientists claimed, in the prominent peer-reviewed journal Cell, that they had allowed four of these cloned embryos to develop to the blastocyst stage (that is, about 150 to 200 cells).
Talking with Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio on Tuesday, May 21, Dr. Smith explained that the scientific community has accurately reported their successful cloning experiment in professional journals, while downplaying the significance of the research in the mainstream press, making it seem that it isn’t really human cloning. Popular news outlets, also trying not to alarm the public, have reported that the project is “an intermediate step toward human cloning,” rather than admitting that it is a successful cloning experiment.
The blastocyst stage, Smith explained, is the point at which scientists can either destroy the embryos or implant them in the uterus. Just like Dolly the sheep, the first “manufactured” animal which was created in a laboratory in 1996, these cloned human embryos have the potential to develop to maturity in the womb.
The cloning process—called somatic cell nuclear transfer or SCNT—is accomplished by taking a human egg cell and removing the nucleus. Then, Smith explained, scientists would take the nucleus from another cell, such as a skin cell, and implant it into the egg cell. The resultant embryo, produced via asexual reproduction, would be essentially identical to the person who had contributed the original skin cell.
Smith calls the cloning process—even if successfully applied to harvest organs or provide some other medical benefit, or for birth—a scientific triumph but an ethical earthquake. Scientists would be guilty of manufacturing human life for the purpose of harvesting it like a corn crop—that is, for the very purpose of destroying it.
It is likely that Congress and state legislatures will introduce anti-cloning legislation, as they have in recent years. However, Smith warned against political sleight-of-hand such as that employed in an anti-cloning bill introduced in 2007 by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The Feinstein-Hatch wording, rather than banning human cloning, actually would have legalized it by codifying an inaccurate definition. Feinstein and Hatch’s Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Protection Bill stated that “’human cloning’ means implanting or attempting to implant the produce of nuclear transplantation into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus.” More accurately, Smith explained, ‘cloning’ refers to the asexual creation of the cloned embryo, regardless of whether or not it is implanted.
For more information about human cloning, read Wesley Smith’s article in the May 27, 2013 issue of the Weekly Standard.
To hear Wesley’s interview on “Kresta in the Afternoon” go to click here for the podcast.