Moral Harm or Benefit to Society. The effect of therapeutic cloning upon society has been debated by opponents and proponents alike. The President’s Council majority fear negative effects, such as the subjugation of weak members of society, or genetic manipulation of developing life: “As much as we wish to alleviate suffering now and to leave our children in a world where suffering can be more effectively relieved, we also want to leave them in a world ... that honors moral limits, that respects all life whether strong or weak, and that refuses to secure the good of some human beings by sacrificing the lives of others.”91 Approving therapeutic cloning would harm society by “crossing the boundary from sexual to
asexual reproduction, thus approving in control of nascent human life.”92 USCCB
principle the genetic also shares this point
manipulation of view.
Counter arguments have been made by those who note that “[h]istorically, scientific inquiry has been protected and even encouraged because of the great societal benefit the public recognizes in maintaining the sanctity of knowledge and the value of intellectual freedom.”93 In addition, they note that cloning is replication, rather than transformation: “In an important sense, cloning is not the most radical thing on the horizon. Much more significant ... would be the ability to actually alter or manipulate the genome of offspring, ... which could then lead to a child being born with characteristics other than it would have had....”94 The Council minority, NBAC, Nancy Reagan, Gerald Ford, and the Nobel Laureates share this perspective.
Going Too Far or Drawing Appropriate Limitations. Some, such as the majority of the President’s Council and USCCB, believe that policies allowing therapeutic cloning would create a slippery slope, “opening the door to other moral hazards, such as cloning-to-produce-children or research on later-stage embryos and fetuses.”95 Others, such as the Council minority, NBAC, Nancy Reagan, Gerald Ford, and the Nobel Laureates, believe that it is possible to circumscribe acceptable practices with good policy. “Both the federal government and the states already regulate the researchers’ methods in order to protect the rights of research subjects and community safety.”96 Government might regulate “the secure handling of embryos, licensing and prior review of research projects, the protection of egg donors, and the provision of equal access to benefits.” 97
Egg Procurement. The topic of egg procurement came to the public’s attention in November 2005 with allegations that some human eggs used in South Korean scientist Dr. Hwang’s laboratory had been obtained under coercive
Ibid., p. xxxiv. Ibid., p. xxxiv. National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Cloning Human Beings, June 1997, p. 75.
94 J.A. Robertson, “A Ban on Human Cloning Research Is Unjustified,” Testimony before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (Mar. 14, 1997), in National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Cloning Human Beings, June 1997, p. 68.
President’s Council, Human Cloning, p. xxxiv. National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Cloning Human Beings, June 1997, p. 75. President’s Council, Human Cloning, p. xxxviii.